Who's the evildoer?
He's the spoiled son of a powerful politician from a wealthy oil family who is supported by religious fundamentalists. He operates through clandestine organizations, has no respect for the democratic electoral process, bombs innocents, and uses war to deny people their civil liberties.
Continuing the analysis of the 9/11/01 terrorist attack on America....
I had hoped George W. Bush* learned his lesson about overblown, comic-book style rhetoric—about feeding the world propaganda instead of facts. Apparently not. In his November 8 speech, Bush* urged a crusade against evil all over again.
As many have noted, Bush's* double-speak (Dubya-speak?) is Orwellian in scope. War is peace. Security is freedom. Killing is justice. Is it any wonder the world audience is becoming disgruntled, forcing Bush* to hire a Madison Avenue shill to explain why black is white and up is down?
Here are some excerpts from Bush's* 11/8 speech (in brackets), along with my comments:
>> The moment the second plane hit the second building, when we knew it was a terrorist attack, many felt that our lives would never be the same. What we couldn't be sure of then and what the terrorists never expected was that America would emerge stronger with a renewed spirit of pride and patriotism. <<
Yes, if you define patriotism as waving flags and singing songs while not enlisting for war or making any other sacrifices. We're about as patriotic as kindergartners, who also will line up, do as they're told, and pledge allegiance on cue.
>> None of us would ever wish the evil that has been done to our country, yet we have learned that out of evil can come great good. During the last two months, we have shown the world America is a great nation. <<
Hm-mm. How have we shown we're great, exactly? By throwing benefits for the 9/11 victims, then filing lawsuits over the money's distribution? By going back to our normal lives, indifferent to the people being killed and starved in Afghanistan? What's so great about that?
People the world over have survived genocide, famines, plagues, and natural disasters that have killed hundreds of thousands, even millions. If we're great for carrying on in the face of tragedy, is every other country equally great? Is China 50 times greater than the US for carrying on after an earthquake that killed 50 times as many people as Terrorist Tuesday?
Or are we great because we pretended to offer the Taliban a peaceful alternative, then bombed the bejeezus out of them? If we kill more soldiers who had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks, will that make us even greater? If we nuke Kabul like we nuked Hiroshima, will that make us the greatest (killer) of all?
>> We are a different country than we were on September the 10th, sadder and less innocent, stronger and more united. And in the face of ongoing threats, determined and courageous. <<
Yes, we're courageous, if you consider being afraid to risk a single soldier in a ground war courageous. It takes great courage to bomb a faceless bunch of specks from a distant vantage point, risking nothing more than an achy trigger finger.
Who threatens our freedoms?
>> Our nation faces a threat to our freedoms, and the stakes could not be higher. <<
Yes. The threat is Bush's* USA Patriot bill and other "homeland security" measures designed to rob us of our freedoms. Confirming the parallels to Vietnam, Bush* is destroying Afghanistan to save it and Ashcroft is destroying the Constitution to save it.
>> We are the target of enemies who boast they want to kill, kill all Americans, kill all Jews and kill all Christians. We've seen that type of hate before, and the only possible response is to confront it and to defeat it. <<
Well, of course we've seen that kind of hate before. We've seen it when we were the perpetuators of such hate rather than the victims. We've seen it when we slaughtered Indians, enslaved Africans, and assaulted immigrants and workers. We're familiar with that type of hate because we've practiced it many times.
>> This enemy tries to hide behind a peaceful faith. But those who celebrate the murder of innocent men, women and children have no religion, have no conscience and have no mercy. <<
When confronted with the US death toll of 500,000 children in Iraq, which former U.N. Assistant Secretary General Denis Halladay denounced as "a systematic program...of deliberate genocide," Secretary of State Madeline Albright openly confirmed Halladay's assessment. Asked during the widely-viewed TV program Meet the Press to respond to his "allegations," she calmly announced that she'd decided it was "worth the price" to see that U.S. objectives were achieved. (Paraphrase of Ward Churchill from Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens.)
>> We are destroying training camps, disrupting communications and dismantling air defenses. We are now bombing Taliban front lines. We are deliberately and systematically hunting down these murderers, and we will bring them to justice. <<
This had to be the most incredible quote in an incredible speech—incredible as in impossible to believe. Bush* admits he's bombing Taliban soldiers—blowing them to bloody pulp, to be less euphemistic. In the same breath he declares he's hunting them down to bring them to justice.
How do you bring scattered body parts to justice? Do you collect them in a bag, take them to court, and pass sentence on them? Bush* hasn't brought a single terrorist to justice and he apparently has no intention of doing so. His goal is to exterminate the people he deems evil, not to bring them to justice.
If anyone's unclear on the concept, look up the word "justice" in the dictionary. Let us know which part of the definition includes slaughtering people without due process of the law. For extra credit, look up the word "revenge" and see how much better it fits the situation than "justice."
Bin Laden, world conquerer?
>> We wage a war to save civilization itself. <<
Uh-huh, sure we do. But why stop there? What about saving the wild animals on earth, the birds of heaven, the fish in the sea? What about saving the very air, land, and water? What about the moon, the other planets, even the sun?
Even if terrorists nuked the world's largest cities—which, not coincidentally, is Bush's* latest scare scenario—would civilization end? From the fall of Rome to the US destruction of Hiroshima, Tokyo, and Dresden, civilization has survived great losses before. I'd say it isn't in danger now—except maybe from Bush.
The only way civilization will collapse is if we overpopulate the world (Bush* has banned family planning funding); if we destroy the environment (Bush* has encouraged global warming and habitat destruction); if we use up our natural resources (Bush* favors oil drilling and thinks conservation is un-American); or if we trigger a nuclear winter (Bush* wants a missile defense system that will restart the arms race but do nothing to stop terrorist bombs). Since Bush's* pre-terrorist policies have earned near-universal opprobrium from other nations, would it be fair to call America the world's No. 1 rogue state? Yes, I think it would.
>> When the terrorists and their supporters are gone, the people of Afghanistan will say with the rest of the world, "Good riddance." <<
I'm not sure what the people of Afghanistan will think about the elimination of Saudi Arabia (which has funded most of the Taliban's and Al Qaeda's activities) or the US government (which trained Osama bin Laden and his terrorists and recently gave money to the Taliban). Oops, I guess we're not supposed to talk about those terrorist supporters. My bad.
>> Afghanistan is only the beginning of our efforts in the world. No group or nation should mistake America's intentions. Where terrorist groups of global reach exist, the United States and our friends and allies will seek it out and we will destroy it. <<
In other words, he lied to the American public. He overstated his goals to whip people into a war frenzy. It's called propaganda, friends, and Bush is guilty of it.
>> Our people have responded with courage and compassion, calm and reason, resolve and fierce determination. We have refused to live in a state of panic or a state of denial. <<
Panic: Tell it to all the nitwits who have bought out the nation's supply of gas masks and Cipro. Who are too afraid to fly on planes or even take taxis if a swarthy person is present.
Denial: Tell it to all the nitwits who foam at the mouth if you suggest terrorists are anything but evil or insane. Who believe others must "understand" why we've targeted innocent Iraqi children but not why terrorists targeted innocent Americans.
Our principles: kill the beasts
>> The enormity of this tragedy has caused many Americans to focus on the things that have not changed, the things that matter most in life: our faith, our love for family and friends, our commitment to our country and to our freedoms and to our principles. <<
Yes, this war has made it plain that our founding principles haven't changed. Here's a quote from David Rider's "Indians" and Animals: A Comparative Essay:
Indians received not only similar descriptions to those given predatory animals, but much the same treatment as well. George Washington, revered as the father of the country, wrote that Indians "...were wolves and beasts who deserved nothing from the whites but 'total ruin'" (Stannard, p. 241). Thomas Jefferson, acclaimed proponent of freedom and democracy, argued that the United States government was obliged "...to pursue [Indians] to extermination, or drive them to new seats beyond our reach" (quoted in Takaki, 1979, p. 103).
Compare these quotes from Washington and Jefferson to those of America's warmongers today and you'll see nothing has changed. We remain true to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, in which the Founders condemned "the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."
>> Our great national opportunity is to preserve forever the good that has resulted. Through this tragedy, we are renewing and reclaiming our strong American values. <<
Yes. As Bush* explained our values, you're either with us or against us. If you don't agree with our pompous assertions of self-righteousness, we'll hunt you down and kill you. After you're dead, we may "bring you to justice" for good measure.
But if you die of hunger or disease while we're killing your fathers, brothers, and sons, tough luck. That's what you get for fraternizing with known evildoers rather than moving to the US and becoming great like us.
>> Too many have the wrong idea of Americans as shallow, materialist consumers who care only about getting rich or getting ahead. But this isn't the America I know. <<
What Bush* knows could fill a thimble. Given that he's proposing bailouts for big business while urging Americans to return to normal and shop till they drop, his words ring as hollow as his head.
Despite their generosity to New York's rescue dogs, who have received thousands of booties for their sore little feet, Americans have done nothing to address the world's core problems. We donate less money in foreign aid per capita than any industrialized country. But when it comes to oppression ($3.5 billion annually to Israelis for occupying territory illegally), we give till it hurts.
>> We cannot know every turn this battle will take, yet we know our cause is just and our ultimate victory is assured. We will no doubt face new challenges, but we have our marching orders. My fellow Americans, let's roll. <<
That Bush* mimicked Todd Beamer of Flight 93 is sadly ironic. Beamer was about to risk his life to stop terrorists who posed an immediate threat. Bush* is risking Afghan lives to kill soldiers who had little to do with the US-based attacks and pose no threat except to their women and statues.
"Are ya feelin' good, America? Let's roll!" Winston Churchill has nothing to worry about from Dubya Bush. This lightweight is the Backstreet Boy of political rhetoric.
*Appointed president, not elected.
Bush declares justice a luxury
Bush quickly proved his cries for justice were a lie:
With his plan to hold Star Chamber-style secret trials, does anyone still believe Bush seeks justice? This guy is proving to be the biggest threat to the Constitution since Tricky Dick Nixon.
Rob, letter to the LA Times, 11/16/01
>> Pray for wisdom as [Bush] continues to seek to bring justice throughout the duration of the current conflict. <<
I'll pray that Bush gets the wisdom he doesn't have now. That he'll try to find justice rather than eliminate it with secret trials in military tribunals.
Rob, e-mail to PresidentialPrayerTeam.org, 11/16/01
John Balzar is right when he says secrecy and justice don't belong in the same sentence. He's wrong when he implies Bush ever cared about justice. Look at the evidence: no negotiations for Osama Bin Laden's surrender; bombing soldiers, not hunting terrorists; a complete blackout on even minimal press coverage; a massive attack on our constitutional rights in the name of security; the detention of 1,200 people who have no connection to 9/11; and now secret military tribunals so he can complete his crusade against evil.
Bush has made it clear which part he likes about the justice system: the killing part. Now he can execute the "evildoers" whether they're guilty or not. Lord help us if this is anybody's idea of justice.
Rob, letter to the LA Times, 11/18/01
Spain has refused to extradite an Al Qaeda associate to the US because we won't guarantee him a fair, public trial or a sentence short of killing him. I'm glad someone knows the definition of "justice" even if George W. Bush doesn't.
Rob, letter to the LA Times, 11/26/01
Bush hires spinmeister to prop up his war
As David Corn wrote, why hire an advertising executive to sell the war if his goal of justice is obvious?
Why Bush Needs to Spin the War
David Corn, AlterNet
November 9, 2001
"Don't worry. You'll be safe. We know how to take care of terrorists here."
So said the chuckling immigration officer at Port of Spain the other day. I had been dispatched to Trinidad by the U.S. State Department to conduct a two-day seminar on investigative reporting for local journalists (your tax dollars at work!), and the first Trini I encountered could not resist needling the Americans.
The next day, amid talk of the Freedom of Information Act, finding sources, and Internet-assisted-reporting, one of the fifteen island journalists asked me and my colleague, Bonnie Goldstein, a former investigative producer for ABC News, what we thought of the U.S. media's coverage of the September 11 attacks. Before we could respond, several participants volunteered their opinions.
"The first day was fine, then it was too much, too much."
"It was, 'oh, poor, poor us.'"
"Like the United States was the only country ever to be hit by terrorism."
"Self-pity, plenty of self-pity."
A consensus formed: a self-indulgent America was excessively obsessed with its own suffering.
And this was coming from our friends — reporters who live in a city overflowing with KFC restaurants and who had, on their own accord, come to the information office of the U.S. embassy desperately seeking pointers from American journalists. They were not insensitive to the horror of September 11, but neither were they overly sympathetic to America's pain and fear or deferential to U.S. concerns.
This exchange might have served as a focus group for the White House, as Bush presses his (latest) new initiative to sell overseas the war against terrorism. After a month of bombing, the Administration seemed to conclude it was, as the media cliche went, "losing the PR battle." The Bush White House was not admitting this in public. But others were saying so. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told a newspaper he saw "danger signs" the West was falling behind in this part of the struggle. Various commentators issued similar warnings.
The war-worriers cried that Bush was not only losing ground in the Muslim world but that he also was slipping in Europe.
Bush's actions showed he agreed. In speeches he started comparing the Taliban and al Qaeda — the "evildoers" — to the "fascist totalitarians" of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The goal was, as several White House reporters put it, to "demonize" Osama bin Laden. Bush opened rapid-response centers in Washington, London and Pakistan to counter Taliban reports. He sent Karl Rove, his chief political strategist, to Hollywood to take a meeting with studio execs and discuss what the flix-folks can do to bolster America's wartime image. And he hired Charlotte Beers, an advertising honcho once dubbed the Queen of Madison Avenue, to pull together a message operation to pitch the war — partly via a television and advertising campaign to influence Islamic opinion.
Beers, famous within advertising circles for having handled the Uncle Ben's rice account, serves as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. She told Andrea Mitchell, "I dislike that phrase selling because that's way too arrogant for where we are now. I think the best we can do is open a dialogue of mutual respect and understanding. I'd actually be very satisfied with that."
A dialogue? That's not a very high standard for an ad exec. In another interview, she noted, "What we haven't felt the need to communicate is what is the value system [of the United States] ... What are our beliefs? What do the words 'freedom' and 'tolerance' mean? We are having people who are not our friends define America in negative terms. It is time for us to reignite the understanding of America."
In other words, people elsewhere have America pegged wrong. And that is the fault of the foes of the United States. What does the Administration have in mind to turn this situation around? A Bombing for Tolerance campaign? Ads with Michael Jordan attesting to the goodness of America? (The slogan: "Be like us.") Will Bush intensify Operation Demonization and start referring to bin Laden as the anti-Christ? Movies that show Middle Eastern terrorists plotting mass murder against the decent civilians of the West? (That base has been covered.)
This is not to make light of the seriousness of the massacre committed on September 11 by people who are indeed evil or to diminish the threat of further violence that still exists. But talk of reselling the war kicks up a question Bush and his advisers have not addressed in public: why have they had such a tough time closing the sale?
Bush could not have had an easier set-up. A villain out of a James Bond film unleashes murder and mayhem against thousands of civilians — including many from countries other than the United States. He essentially acknowledges his culpability and threatens more of the same. He calls for uprisings against various Arab states. He is protected by a regime of totalitarian, misogynistic, extremists who maintain official relations with only three other nations in the world.
How could Bush be outflanked by this foul individual? How much more can bin Laden be demonized? (He's Lucifer and he has nuclear weapons!) Shouldn't a just war, a good war, be largely self-evident? No spinning required? In recent days, pundits, commentators, and administration officials (the latter speaking off the record) have asserted that Washington needs to find and promote Islamic voices that can present the case for the war. As former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke said, "We need to use authentic and credible Muslims, clerics and religious leaders and political speakers ... speaking in their own terms, not just President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, to make clear to the people in the Middle East and the whole Muslim world ... to make clear to them what's going on." But this advice ignores a sad reality: such persons have not felt compelled to spout ringing endorsements of Bush's war. What might be the reasons for this?
Here's a partial answer with two pieces: throughout much of the world, America has no credit to draw upon, and, beyond that, Bush has so bungled the meta-framework of this war that PR efforts may be useless at this point. When you're the only superpower left standing, large portions of the rest of the world may feel resentment and not possess a charitable attitude toward you. But the United States's decision to share only a meager slice of its tremendous wealth with other nations, its my-way-or-the-highway approach to certain international matters, its rapacious consumption of a disproportionate amount of global resources (see SUVs), its occasional heavy-handed interventions on behalf of less-than-exemplary regimes — all of this has left it little good will in the bank of international sentiment. It rescued Europe six decades ago. But there's been a lot of oil under the bridge since then.
Among my new friends in Trinidad, I sensed a bit of satisfaction that America received a dose of comeuppance. We're sorry, of course we are, yes, but why did you believe you were entitled to protection from the dangers of the world order that you have helped shape, that you benefit from so greatly, and that you claim to lead? So when the United States requests help from others, many are not eager to fall in.
Moreover, Bush has presented his war in a manner that exacerbates rather than ameliorates ambivalence (or antagonism) toward America.
He and his aides keep saying either you're with us or against us. In other parts of the world, this sort of talk might sound bullying, which can reinforce perceptions of U.S. arrogance. The notion that the United States is fighting for freedom, as Bush continually insists, ought to come across as laughable to anyone abroad with a sense of history. Washington has a long record of supporting governments that opposed freedom (Chile, Argentina, the Philippines, Cuba, Nicaragua, South Africa, Greece, Iran, among others). Now it makes common cause with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, nations that do not offer freedom to all their citizens. And it maintains a close relationship with Israel, which denies freedoms to non-Jews within its borders. The United States is not fighting for freedom. It is not fighting for tolerance. (If so, it would send troops into Saudi Arabia). It is fighting to protect itself and to destroy a small group of barbaric individuals who also threaten other nations. That's not a minor thing. But a honest depiction of what was under way might carry more resonance than the phony rhetoric Bush pushes — and which will be enshrined in sophisticated, celebrity-laden commercials.
As for the civilian casualties in Afghanistan, they indeed are a PR nightmare, and they should be. But is it possible that civilian deaths are even more upsetting when they occur under a false flag?
The problem is not just message. It's deeds — past and present. This is hardly a radical view. As the subversive Wall Street Journal reported this past week, the Administration's call "for a united front against terrorism" is "gaining little credence" in the Muslim world because U.S. policies "are perceived as biased" and "anger at America serves as a lightning rod for social, economic and political dissatisfaction." The paper quoted a diplomat from a pro-U.S. country, who observed, "So far, the United States is treating this as an advertising and public-relations campaign. To capture the hearts and minds of people, one has to tackle those issues closest to their heart.
The U.S. has to convince people of the integrity and fairness of its policies." The diplomat noted that "the kinds of things Arabs and Muslims are looking for" include "a demonstrated willingness to pressure Israel to moderate its policies toward the Palestinians ... and a policy toward Iraq that targets" Saddam Hussein "without penalizing the Iraqi people."
Holbrooke gripes that "our message isn't getting through because we have bad messages and bad messengers." No doubt. Yet how effective can the policy be, if it is so difficult to explain?
David Corn is the Washington editor of The Nation.
Bin Laden isn't the real evil
Not only does Bush want to distract us from the root causes of 9/11, but also from the real problems of the world. From the LA Times, 11/13/01:
Real Evildoer? The World's Nuclear Arsenal
By ROBERT SCHEER
Robert Scheer writes a syndicated column
Once again, we're being sold on the devil theory of history. Not that Osama bin Laden doesn't fit the bill as the Satan of the moment, just as Saddam Hussein did in the previous Bush administration. But it's dangerous nonsense to suggest, as President Bush does, that we're up against an evildoer the likes of whom we've never seen.
While it's certainly necessary to eliminate Bin Laden's terrorist cohort, that will hardly end the prospect of mayhem in this world. We lull ourselves into a false sense of security when we insist that madness is the exclusive province of one group of extremists, or that it inevitably finds its locus in one religion or region of the world.
When it comes to genocide, Bin Laden is a minor contender. We've witnessed far worse from the good Germans, mostly well-educated, law-abiding Protestants and Catholics who killed 6 million Jews in the worst example of religious hatred ever. The U.S. caused the death of millions in Vietnam in a more recent war that never bore any reasonable connection to our security, as Lyndon Johnson's recently released tapes reveal. And what about Cheshire cat Vladimir V. Putin, a top KGB apparatchik when Soviet forces killed more that a million Afghan innocents, whose Russian troops now slaughter Chechen civilians?
By personalizing evil, Bush ignores the role of our allies and ourselves in making this such a dangerous world. That's clear when one assesses the true risks of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, which Bush in his U.N. speech warned Bin Laden would use, saying, "No hint of conscience would prevent it." What hint of conscience prevented the U.S. from being the only nation in history to use nuclear weapons, killing at least 115,000 civilians in an assault that makes the World Trade Center attack pale in comparison?
Clearly, it's the leading nations that have created the world's huge arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, and if there's a danger in their use now by terrorists, it's only because those nations' stocks have been pilfered or sold and their scientists bribed.
If Bin Laden possesses such weapons, it's through purchases on the black market or because he had the backing of nation-states, with Pakistan at the head of the list. He couldn't have done it alone. We've had him and his operation under constant observation, following President Clinton's orders to disable him. It's inconceivable that such an operation could have been directed undetected from the caves of Afghanistan.
However, Pakistan has been hellbent on producing nuclear weapons, its program directed by scientists holding fanatical Islamist views who were forced to resign only after Sept. 11. Also forced to resign, as an additional obvious embarrassment, was the head of Pakistan's intelligence agency, which has been intimate with the Taliban and Bin Laden.
The Pakistan-India nuclear arms race is the most dangerous confrontation in the world, yet we suddenly ended sanctions against those countries and will reward Pakistan's military dictator with $1 billion in high-tech military assistance for turning against his old buddies, the Taliban.
China is another nuclear-armed state that only recently was accused by the U.S. government of stealing our most valuable nuclear secrets. Indeed, the FBI all but ignored Bin Laden as it kept 100 agents assigned to Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee, producing a case so weak that Lee was never even charged with spying. Now that Bush has embraced China as yet another ally in the war against terrorism, the alleged theft of our rocket and nuclear technology is conveniently forgotten.
We are fickle in our anger and grief; new enemies replace the old while the flag is waved and unity achieved. This is understandably therapeutic, as is the desire for revenge through bombing, even if it means killing children and starving the population. But it does not address the larger threat to the world's security.
Rest assured that Bin Laden soon will be reduced to a violent footnote. But the danger to our civilization presented by the Cold War residue of weapons of mass destruction, which we and other civilized nations continue to produce, will haunt us long after Bin Laden is a dim if bizarre memory.
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
My letter to the LA Times on Bush's "evil" mania, 12/7/01:
Bush is talking about broadening the war to other countries. I say we should bomb every country that doesn't like us. After all, as Bush has reminded us many times, "You're either with us or against us." Those who have voted against us in the United Nations, who have called us nasty names, are clearly anti-American. They've forfeited their right to exist as separate countries.
Terrorism: "good" vs. "evil"
Reality check for warmongers
What the world needs now
. . .
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