by RIP RENSE
The Big Picture. . .
Daniel Schorr implied in a recent NPR
commentary that the Iraq Attack has psyched out the other team; that the "axis of
evil"---Iran, and North Korea---and that "rogue nation" debutante, Syria,
have shown signs of compromise. To wit:
*Iran is apparently mullah-ing over compromise; a Tehran
official announced that it is in the country's best interests to deal with the U.S..
(Still, Iran is said to be supporting and even helping to organize the anti-U.S.
Shi'ites in Iraq.)
*Syria claims to have sealed its borders under orders from
Bush, and is rolling out the magic carpet for that genie of good cop-ism, Colin Powell.
*North Korea had a meet-and-greet with the U.S. and
China---changing its previous demand for a private chat with Uncle Sam. Of course,
everybody stopped talking when Rumsfeld's office leaked plans for bombing North Korea's
nuke plant, and North Korea threatened to roast North America on a radioactive spit. . .
So, has the Bush policy of pre-emptive
military attack, as Schorr suggested in his commentary, really intimidated other nations
into a more agreeable posture?
If so, this would be a good thing, as is the apparent
demise of Saddam Hussein. Yet it is not surprising that brutal, bullying regimes of
colossally overmatched countries would respond well to. . .bullying. That brutes should
best understand brute force is ancient postulation, sad and usually true. (It is worth
noting, though, that Jimmy Carter's freelance diplomacy, not threat, defused a near-war
with North Korea in 1994.)
The positive fallout from the Iraq attack has
prompted some negative fallout at home. The American people are drunk with imaginary 9/11 vengence (even though Saddam didn't do it, folks), self-righteousness, and chauvinism (and
U.S. corporations are drunk with new contracts.) The I-told-you-so's are up on
their hind legs, chanting "a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged!" Andy
Rooney has said he's sorry, the Dixie Chicks are whistling a different tune, Sheryl Crow
has changed her liberal lyric, and the administration is crowing morality, morality,
morality. Break out your "Chemical Ali" dolls, Old Glory visors, and punch a
peacenik in the nose!
Well, that's the tone this week. Whether it will
remain next week, or next month, next year, is anyone's guess.
Somehow, it all got me to thinking about the movie,
"The Quiet American," in which Pyle, the CIA operative in '50s Vietnam, extolls
the "big picture" as he engineers bombings and killings of innocent civilians in
order to manipulate the country's future. He is a sociopath; comfortable that death and
suffering, the tools of his trade, will result in a "greater good."
Pyle of Vietnam has much in common with Condoleezza
of Arabia and the other architects of Bush Administration foreign policy: Dick Cheney,
Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle. They share his cynicism about
humanity---or realism, some would say---that employing mayhem with the goal of effecting a
"greater good" is perfectly acceptable.
It's an idea that boils down to this, in the Iraq
context: was it worth killing thousands of innocent people--- maiming children, destroying
families, plunging the country into chaos---to achieve U.S. goals? Difficult question,
when confronted with images of armless children burned over 60 percent of their bodies by
U.S. bombs. This is where "the big picture" apparently comes to the aid of all
the Pyles in the Washington. They somehow shut their eyes to the monstrosity of war in
favor of what they believe will be a "greater good."
But what exactly is this "greater
good?" To listen to the big guns in the administration pop off for the past few
weeks, you'd think that the sole purpose of invasion was moral: to get rid of Saddam and
"liberate" the Iraqi people. That this was just a gift from Uncle Sam and the
good folks at Democracy "R" Us.
Is this true? If so, why, then did the
U.S. not invade at some point during the past twenty years, when "we" knew of
Saddam's torture chambers, and sold him chemical weapons of mass destruction. Why did
Rumsfeld spend two years negotiating a (failed) oil pipeline deal with Saddam in the '80s,
knowing full-well he used those same chemical weapons? Why did Cheney's Halliburton do
business (through a subsidiary) with Saddam in the late '90s, while he claimed it didn't?
If the U.S. design was so humanitarian,
why did we not depose a fiendish dictator elsewhere? Why do we suddenly "care"
about the Iraqi people? Why not the Cambodian people? Why did we do nothing during the
"Killing Fields" era, for instance, when millions died at the hands of the
Khymer Rouge? In some African nations, tribal butchery and genocide are a way of life. Why
do we not invade and "nation build" there?
Two reasons gush to mind: Iraq sits on
one-third of the world's oil; Iraq affords easy access for a full-scale invasion and
occupation of the Middle East---which is a stated goal of the Project
for a New American Century, the Bush Administration's foreign policy blueprint of
"pre-emptive" strikes in the name of national security.
And here's a third reason: it was
no-contest! Iraq posed as much military threat to the U.S. as Custer posed to the Sioux.
It was a hell of a lot easier than starting "Global Pax Americana" in North
Korea, or Iran. (Intending no slight to U.S. armed forces, Cheney's claim that this was
one of the greatest military achievements in history is one of the more ludicrous
statements of the day.)
So scratch morality as primary, or even
secondary motive. The indisputable good of Saddamizing Hussein is windfall profit in the
administration's "big picture" of occupying the Middle East, controlling its
oil, securing massive contracts for U.S. corpse-o-rations, and threatening other
"rogue nations" in the name of U.S. security. (Remember that troops took control
of the Iraqi oil ministry while the country roiled in anarchy and looting. )
Oh, and let's not forget that ol'
time religion! That's part of the "big picture," too. Bush constantly
invokes "God" and "prayer" in his speeches, clearly implying that
"God is on our side." (Soldiers were asked to---get this---mail little
pre-printed postcards to Bush, saying they were praying for the Prez.) Televangelists testify
to it outright, every Sunday, all across the country---that we are the world's only
good, righteous people. Frank "Son of Billy" Graham---he who declared Islam
"evil"---has already set up shop in Iraq, to impose his corporate Christianity
on the Muslim populace. (That should go over big with those bloodied, self-flaggelating
Shi'ites.) All Iraqis will be given free health care (unlike all Americans), but it will
not cover abortion. Hey, is this a democracy or theocracy we are imposing---er, offering?
And what of the WMD, and the much
ballyhooed threat they posed to this country--- despite a lack of evidence, and Iraq's
last-minute willingness to destroy a couple of dozen missiles? This was the main excuse
for invasion! Well, where are they? Why did Iraq not use any in the "war?"
Answer: odds are that the Sad-Man was incapable of using whatever WMD he had, and probably
didn't own such weapons in the quantities the admini- stration claimed.
"Containment," it seems, was doing the job! Unless, that is, you believe a new
report from an "anonymous" Iraqi military official, who claims that Saddam
mysteriously destroyed all bio-chem weapons just before the big Iraq-and-Roll party began.
The point here is to remember another
kind of "big picture," even as constructive fallout from this "pre-
emptive" strike appears. That is the picture presented by the Bush administration
National Security Strategy (a rewrite of the PNAC precepts): a world remade by a bellicose
United States through economic and military domination.
According to this scheme, the
president can instigate war at will---including nuclear---against any nation, on mere
suspicion, without congressional approval (unconstitutional, incidentally.)
Translation: the United States becomes exactly the thing that Bush derided in many a
campaign speech: "the policeman of the world."
Is this moral? Should the
U.S.---already bankrupt by a trillion bucks or so---gamble on the unimaginably costly and
dangerous "greater good" of "imposing democracy" on barely stable
countries that have only known dictatorships? No matter the amount of money, death and
What if China were the "lone
superpower" in the world, and sought to exert domination through
"pre-emptive" strikes? The Chinese certainly think their system is as moral as
ours. Or to make the argument more irksome to neo-cons, what if France were the
dominant power, seeking to impose its Gitanes and fais grais on the planet? Would
that be moral? France is a free democracy, after all. Mon dieu!
So as the administration continues to swagger
all over the moral high ground, it behooves good citizens everywhere to remember another
"big picture"---one that is is staggeringly overlooked, forgotten, or dismissed
amid all the red-white-and-bluebris:
The Bush administration is largely comprised of
former oil and energy executives (Cheney is still being paid by Halliburton, while in
office!). Corpse-o-rations lined up long ago for a piece of "rebuilding" Iraq,
from Bechtel on down. This is only the most spectacular conflict of interest in
U.S. government history, that's all---yet is astoundingly ignored by the public and press.
The money to be made from "rebuilding Iraq"---now being mapped out by the
ever-looming, shadowy Carlyle Group--- is beyond imagination. Neither the taxpaying
Ameican nor sorely taxed Iraqi people will share the profits, except by, at best,
Meanwhile, back at the ranch. . .
Bush wants to slash taxes for the kingmakers
and robber-baron looters of the corporate world (What? Kenny Lay is still rich, and
free?), 25,000 teachers are being laid off in California, layoffs and mergers are a way of
life, countless Americans are unable to pay for health care, environmental protections are
becoming as extinct as lions and tigers, Constitutionally-guaranteed privacy and freedom
are shrugged off in the interests of "security," gun manufacturers continue to
knowingly sell to companies that supply firearms to criminals, utter hatred of the left
edges toward McCarthyism, the Bush administration is consolidating power as no previous
administration ever has, $90 billion (first installment) has been spent on Iraq instead of
shoring up security at home, much of the world opposes Bush's policies, and Osama bin
Laden and Al-Qaeda roam free.
Is this moral?
Pyle, a fictional character whose "big
picture" created the worst mistake in U.S. history, Vietnam, would say yes, sir!
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