Cheerleading War and Slaughter
By WILLIAM A. COOK
March 16, 2005
"A Conservative Government is an organized hypocrisy." - Benjamin Disraeli
As we commemorate the now annual date of America's March of Madness into Iraq, where the Neo-Con forces of liberation became the forces of occupation, we witness these very same Pharisees lift their respective heads above the roiling waters of the river Styx into which they sunk this country, tentatively waving their cheerleaders' pom-poms in celebration of their ultimate triumph, the democratization of the mid-east.
This March 19th, America's "Day of Infamy," the day we launched Bush's illegal pre-emptive invasion of another country, a day that should be celebrated in this good Christian land with a Mass of the Dead accompanied by the anguished cry of Mozart's "Requiem," we have instead an advertising campaign from the board rooms of the American Enterprise Institute, the Project for the New American Century, AIPAC, the Pentagon, and the White House extolling the success of Bush's "Shock and Awe" as it elevated the Arab states from their "Age of Darkness" to the "Enlightenment" of civilized Capitalistic society.
No voice speaks more loudly the anthem of this Cabal than one of its founding fathers, Charles Krauthammer, whose two page advertising spread in Time this month, "Three Cheers for the Bush Doctrine," rouses the troops in glowing accolades to celebrate Bush's determination and resolve to carry forward, despite world opinion, to bring freedom and liberty to the people of the Arab world. "It took this marriage of power, will and principle to produce the astonishing developments in the Middle East today," Krauthammer stammers in ecstatic admiration of the "Bush Doctrine" that states apparently, "the will to freedom is indeed universal" and that "America's intentions are sincere." "Contrary to the cynics," he notes, "Arab and European and American, the U.S. did not go into Iraq for oil or hegemony, after all, but for liberation a truth that on Jan. 31 even al-Jazeera had to televise."
Milton observed in Paradise Lost, "For neither man nor angel can discern/ Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks/ Invisible, except to God alone." No doubt Krauthammer and his minions understand this truth believing they can manipulate the public to believe whatever lies they wish to perpetrate. And why shouldn't they since the whole debacle of the Bush Doctrine, so-called, began in lies, continues in lies, and will, with Krauthammer and his ilk as historians, convert lies to truth as the victors write the texts for the defeated. These Bush apologists take the onion of Bush's doctrine, discard without comment each lying skin, then rediscover its core in euphuistic generalities that ignore the facts and turn fiction into truth.
Consider this prevarication: "That America, using power harnessed to democratic ideals, could begin a transformation of the Arab world from endless tyranny and intolerance to decent governance and democratization." What democratic ideal calls upon one people to determine for another that they will assume the principles of democracy or they will be imposed on them by force? The fundamental premise of democracy is self-determination, not imposed or coerced determination. America's power in Bush's doctrine, if such there be, is not harnessed to any democratic ideal, rather it is harnessed to an illegal policy of pre-emptive force and Zionist Christian mythology that negates the rights of nation states, dissembles the unifying fabric of the United Nations, casts America back to the dark ages of lawlessness, and turns these United States into a pariah nation understood by the vast majority of nations on the planet as a terrorist state.
Lest he give all the credit for this remarkable "spring" of new found civil discourse in the mid-east to Bush alone, Krauthammer promotes his own narcissistic image as the architect of this beneficence by asserting, "I argued (two years ago)... that forcefully deposing Saddam Hussein was, more than anything, about America 'coming ashore' to effect a 'pan-Arab reformation' a dangerous, 'risky and, yes, arrogant' but necessary attempt to change the very culture of the Middle East, to open its doors to democracy and modernity." How refreshing that the Arab world and its culture should be "corrected" by a man of such intellect who had, without question, only their best interests at heart. None of this, certainly, had to do with what Krauthammer, during the fall campaign, described as Kerry's trump card should he win the Presidency, "sacrificing Israel" to appease the Europeans and the Arabs. "America's power harnessed to democratic ideals," certainly, had nothing to do with Israel's interests in the mid-east any more than it had to do with oil or hegemony. Certainly, America's interests were purely altruistic, and misreading "coming ashore" to mean that America would arrive at the shore where Israel exists as a military presence is perversion of the truth. Perhaps we should be satisfied that he admits the arrogance of the statement knowing as we do that arrogance walks blindly through its path of destruction led by its white cane of egoism, tipped by the red blood of its superiority and racism.
Blind arrogance can see no fault, assume no responsibility, nor bear any guilt. It omits all that disturbs the comfort of its proclaimed truth. Hence, Krauthammer's "Elections in Afghanistan, a historic first. Elections in Iraq, a historic first. Free Palestinian elections producing a moderate leadership, two historic firsts. Municipal elections in Saudi Arabia, men only, but still a first. In Egypt, demonstrations for democracy unheard of in decades - prompting the dictator to announce free contested presidential elections, a historic first," omits the facts in favor of the platitude.
That American power controlled the election process and the candidates in Afghanistan, that the pre-determined winner, America's CIA gift to the country, President Karzai controls only a small section of the country, that warlords are paid by America to keep the lid on uprisings need not be mentioned.
That Iraqis did not know the names of the candidates, that a major percent of the population did not vote, that Americans controlled access to the voting areas and the counting of the ballots, that the Kurdish 27% of guaranteed seats is a political payoff, that the outcome will be a Shiite state not a democracy need not be mentioned.
That the Palestinians had elected a UN monitored President of the PLO prior to this election, a President made inoperative by Israel and the U.S. thus negating the purpose of a democratic election, that America and Israel made it clear that there would be no financial support or political support for a Palestinian state unless they elected Mahmoud Abbas, the man both Bush and Sharon accepted because he would cow-tow to Sharon's demands, that the Palestinians did not have free access to the polling places because they had to go through Israeli checkpoints need not be mentioned.
That Saudi Arabia's Saud family and Egypt's Mubarak have been puppets of American power for decades when it was in our interests to have them in total control of their populations need not be mentioned. Sins of omission corrupt democracies as readily as righteous arrogance makes impossible their creation.
The last time America oversaw an election comparable to the one Krauthammer sees in Iraq was in Vietnam when 83% of the population voted; that vote no more reflected the feelings of the South Vietnamese than the Iraqi vote which, if it portends anything about the Iraqi people, tells us what they tell the Pollsters, they voted to get the U.S. out of Iraq. Fraudulence comes in many packages as Krauthammer demonstrates when he waxes poetic " ... the most romantic flowering of the spirit America went into the region to foster: the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, in which unarmed civilians, Christian and Muslim alike, brought down the puppet government installed by Syria."
What he does not mention, of course, is the fractious nature of the ethnic and religious groups that constitute Lebanon and the potential chaos that could ensue from a destabilized government. Nor does he mention that the demonstrations were orchestrated and made possible by the coercion imposed on Syria by the U.S., not the impulsive reaction of people seeking to assert their new-found rights. Nor does he mention that the forces that took the streets in favor of Syrian support, estimated in excess of 500,000, far outnumbered the young, flag-waving crowd brought to the square by our minions. This demonstration belongs in the same category as Saddam's capture and the pulling down of his statue, the Hollywood fiction made fact.
"Three cheers for Bush's doctrine" celebrates a spring of hope and promise in Iraq and the mid-east caused by America's invasion of that country and its aftershock in the region; it is a justification for Bush's war. It assumes on its face that America has the right to force Bush's beliefs on the world and that those beliefs are founded on the principles of our democracy and reflect the beliefs of all Americans.
These assumptions are wrong.
Acceptance of Krauthammer's assumptions gives license to any demagogue to assert the same. Indeed, it justifies Adolf Hitler's abuse of power. The assumption that one nation has the right to forcefully change the culture of another negates the concept of "principle" based on morality. It is on its face anarchy. But the board members directing this campaign have no regard for democratic principles, only the abuse of the words to manipulate the public.
It does not matter that Bush's Cabal determined to invade Iraq as far back as 1991, a policy totally familiar to Mr. Krauthammer; it does not matter that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, a lie that Bush used to cajole Americans to accept his invasion; it does not matter that Bush lied about WMD or chemical weapons, reasons added to the list when needed to ensure the peoples' support; it does not matter that the vast majority of the nations in the world objected to his invasion since he had determined it was justified. Neither reason nor morality determines behavior here, power and will do.
Perhaps the most glaring arrogance present in Krauthammer's advertisement crawls out from between the lines, the voices not heard because he takes on the prerogative of speaking on behalf of all Arabs.
Oh, he quotes a few toadies, those untouched by America's beneficent power, but he fails to interview the people in the streets or mention the polls that give a contrary opinion. None of the Iraqi 100,000 dead have a voice to cheer Bush's Doctrine; none of their family members have been asked about its benefits; no one concerned about the ensuing years' invisible companion, depleted uranium, has a voice; none of the maimed - the blind, the limbless, the sick and dying - have a voice; no one has been asked about America's 14 military bases being a permanent part of the Iraqi landscape; no one has been asked about America determining that Iraqi resources should be sold to the most favored private bidder, primarily non-Iraqi; none of the prisoners subjugated to torture at Abu Ghraib has been asked about America's virtues and its democratic ways; and none of the reporters killed in the line of duty or those not allowed to report openly what has gone on in that country have a voice.
As these apologists for Bush's largesse hype the changes going on in the mid-east and elsewhere around the globe, changes that auger a new age of democracy and freedom, they disparage the past as though America had no hand in its creation: "The region has long been a card catalog of repressive, hereditary kleptocracies, held in place by exported oil and internal security forces, and, since September 11, a source of violent enmity toward the U.S." So speaks Michael Duffy in Time's editorial, an adjacent piece of advertising from Time Warner on behalf of our Emperor.
Without blinking, Duffy omits any reference to America's 60 years of support for the family in Saudi Arabia that has caused the repression in that country, nor does he suggest that a healthy portion of the Bush clans' wealth can be directly attributed to that same family, nor does he mention that the resulting poverty of the masses in that country have not been on America's list of the most needy. Perhaps the admission of hypocrisy sticks in the throat. Why tell the truth when you can create your own!
Then there's this observation by Duffy that the "sudden upheaval in Lebanon, set in motion last month by the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, in itself might have been enough to permit the Bush team to issue a whispered 'I told you so' to critics who thought the President's optimism was naïve." But Duffy makes no mention of the on-going investigations that implicate both Israel and the U.S. in the extrajudicial execution of Hariri, a reality that, if true, might explain the President's optimism, nor does he mention the 500,000 Hezbolah sympathizers that flooded the square where the 25,000 anti-Syrian demonstrators, that he does mention, appeared. Perhaps the admission of hypocrisy sticks in the throat. Why tell the truth when you can create your own!
"Criticism of Hosni Mubarak is still dangerous in Egypt," Duffy notes but fails to explain why America continues to pour billions into that country since it acquiesced to U.S. demands to recognize Israel, if their leader is not sympathetic to democratic values. Perhaps the admission of hypocrisy sticks in the throat. Why not add "The U.S. labored for years to hold elections in Haiti, only to see the country dissolve in chaos," but fail to note, as the Center for the Study of Human Rights detailed in its report, "top officials (in Haiti), including the Minister of Justice, worked for U.S. government projects that undermined their elected predecessors"? Perhaps the admission of hypocrisy sticks in the throat. Why tell the truth when you can create your own!
Let's have three cheers for Krauthammer's doctrine! It, too, rests on a principle, one dear to advertisers and charlatans: accomplish your goal by obfuscation and deceit. The role of government must be asserted through hypocrisy, it must claim its opposite: if it acts by force, if it acts illegally, if it subjugates other nations, if it destroys other people through torture, imprisonment, or rape, if it walls people in ghettoes, bulldozes their land and fruit trees, if it terrorizes with overwhelming force, if it murders without trial by jury or access to lawyers, if it curries friendly dictators in Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan, if it covertly undermines democracies in Chile, Iran, or Haiti while establishing its own dictators in those countries, it must declare itself the savior of the people so subjugated and devastated, claim it has brought democracy to their land and freedom to their people while requesting from them the gratitude the oppressor so rightfully deserves.
We must empathize with Mr. Krauthammer and his peers in the Neo-Con club who have to endure long hours of contemplation away from the crowds, sitting in their frosty air-conditioned offices, beads of sweat glistening on their foreheads as they peer intently at their computer screens, conjuring up the concepts that must be proffered to our government officials if the world is to be corrected to fit their desires.
How many of us after all have the opportunity to change cultures, to redirect whole countries to adjust to the Capitalistic forces that define modernity, to send a nation to war by fabricating reasons to pit the greatest military force the world has ever known against an enfeebled nation subjugated to 12 years of sanctions, bereft of needed medical and food supplies to keep its population alive, indeed, even to care for the half million children that succumbed to this deprivation?
How many of us have the gall to believe we have the right to convince our fellow citizens that they must go to war against Iraq because that country is a threat to America, that it possesses WMD and chemical weapons, that it took part in the 9/11 attacks knowing all these things to be a lie?
How many of us would dare to look at ourselves in the mirror if we had brought this government to war against Iraq knowing the devastation that would ensue for America, thousands physically maimed and thousands mentally destroyed, the 1600 soldiers killed to date for their ideas, the phony ideas of liberation, removal of a terrible dictator, freedom and liberty and the democratic way knowing in their hearts that it was Israeli security and oil that drove them?
How many of us could sit down to our family dinner knowing we were responsible for more than 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians, tens of thousands wounded by our WMD, for the bombs that scatter death and pain indiscriminately across the land, the depleted uranium that singes the skin and sears the innards in slow agonizing suffering?
How many of us live in a mind that elevates itself to a plane of superiority knowing it has by genetic code the right to lead all and use all to further its preconceived ideals of the civilized and modern world, able to accept the inferiority of the masses, especially those who obstruct their need to possess the resources of others' land to carry forward their designs, to live in full knowledge that thousands upon thousands must die to accomplish their ends and that this is not only necessary but justified because they are the chosen?
How many of us would let our neighbor take up the burden of war as long as we can stay behind and direct the slaughter from our plush recliners having spent the morning laboring on our computers?
Perhaps we must reword Disraeli's observation above to fit the times: "A Neo-Con Conservative Government is an organized hypocrisy."
William Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His new book, Psalms for the 21st Century, was published by Mellen Press. He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU