Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Orwell Twist

Global Eye

Inside Joke

Chris Floyd
June 17, 2005

As we all know, President George W. Bush is the most morally upright individual ever to set foot in the White House: a sober, righteous man of God. Yet this very rectitude obscures the fact that he is also one of the great wits of our time, a subtle and sophisticated ironist who has turned the dull business of governance into a highly refined comedic art.

With Shavian brio, Bush sends up the bourgeois pretension that words have meanings and actions have consequences. His specialty is the ironic reversal, known by old-time vaudeville gagsters as the "Orwell Twist." For example, you take a man who concocts justifications for torture, kidnapping and the exaltation of presidential authority beyond the reach of law -- and you make him the chief law enforcement officer of the land! It might look easy, but try doing it with a straight face, the way Bush introduced his criminal accomplice Alberto Gonzales as the new Attorney General. It takes real talent to pull off that kind of deadpan.

Or how about this gem? You steal hundreds of millions of dollars from the public treasury to secretly prepare for a war you've been planning for many years; you tell your closest ally months in advance that the invasion is on, come hell or high water; you unleash a massive bombing campaign against the target months before the war; you deceitfully manufacture and massage evidence to build a bogus case for launching an unprovoked act of aggression against an opponent who has already met all your demands -- and then you tell the world that you only wanted peace! What yocks, eh? Not even Groucho Marx could match such comic subversion.

The list -- and the Twist -- goes on and on: fostering a "culture of life" through capital punishment, gulag murders and "extrajudicial killings" by presidential fiat; spreading "compassionate conservatism" by gutting aid for the poor, the sick, the weak and the old; naming corporate polluters as environmental guardians; promoting "democracy" by coddling despots; "fighting terrorism" by spawning more terrorists -- it's a comedy cornucopia!

But Bush's satiric masterpiece, equal to "Annie Hall," "The Philadelphia Story" or even "Herbie Goes Bananas," might well be his appointment of nuclear war advocates to oversee -- wait for it -- arms control! Ain't that a hoot? Looney-fringe types who oppose arms treaties, want to build more nukes and use them "pre-emptively," even in "non-nuclear combat scenarios," are put in charge of all the pacts and programs to control and eliminate nuclear weapons! Thus "arms control" becomes "Armageddon" in the wacky jargon of Bush-speak. We haven't seen this kind of witty wordplay since the old "Arbeit Macht Frei" gag that the Bush Family's business partners pulled at Auschwitz back in the day.

Meeting Mr. Joseph

But we said Bush was subtle. Almost no one has noticed his June 1 appointment of Robert Joseph as the new undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs. Joseph takes the place of John Bolton, the warmongering blowhard and serial fabricator whom Bush has chosen to be the United States' walrus-moustachioed face to the world at the UN. (Yet another masterstroke of wit from the Maestro: Bolton is copiously on record as despising the UN.) Although Joseph is cut from grayer cloth -- while still sporting plenty of nasal foliage, which is obviously a requirement for this baggy-pants role -- he is probably even more dangerous than his tempestuous predecessor, as Tom Barry of the International Relations Center reports.

Joseph has been a key player in the "nuke 'em all and let God sort 'em out" school of international diplomacy since his early minioning days in the diseased bowels of the Reagan administration. He came into his own after the Crawford clown-master seized power in 2000, serving as a "special assistant" to the president, in charge of destroying the ABM treaty, that 30-year bulwark against nuclear conflict. He was also instrumental in fashioning Bush's maniacal "Nuclear Posture Review," which calls for the production of "low-yield, precision-guided nuclear weapons" that can actually be used in combat, or in "pre-emptive" strikes at, well, basically anybody the president decides might pose a vague threat against "American interests" somewhere down the line.

But increasing the risk of global nuclear annihilation isn't enough for jolly old Joseph; he also has a fondness for biological and chemical weapons. Along with nukes, they make up a Holy Trinity of WMD that "have substantial utility" in the "international environment," he writes. And he doesn't just want user-friendly WMD to be "a permanent feature" of life on earth; he's keen on militarizing the heavens as well -- pre-emptively and unilaterally, natch. And it goes without saying that he opposes any attempts to place limits on U.S. testing and deployment of mass-death weapons.

That's "arms control," Bush-style, for you: a perfect joke. Yet Joseph's merry pranks don't stop there; he was also responsible for pushing one of the many big lies -- sorry, funny stories -- in Bush's pre-invasion propaganda blitzkrieg: the pure hokum about Saddam's nonexistent search for African uranium to fuel his nonexistent nuclear program. As with so many others, Joseph's egregious intelligence "failure" has been rewarded with honors and promotion. Because of course it was no failure at all; it was a well-played pantomime, faithfully following the script of Bush's war-crimes comedy.

Lurking behind all this cynical katzenjammer is the grinning skull of the Bush death-cult: a mad but all-too-plausible dream of conquest, loot and unlimited dominion. For this dream, the cultists have already murdered countless thousands and are gambling with the very life of the world itself. With these comedians, the joke is always on us.


Arms Control and Proliferation:

Profile of Robert G. Joseph
International Relations Center, June 2005

The Nuclear Posture Review:
Reading Between the Lines
Common Dreams, Jan. 17, 2002

Bolton's Broken World
Los Angeles Times, June 13, 2005

The U.S. Removes the Nuclear Brakes
Haaretz, May 26, 2005

Gonzales and Torture:

Gonzales: A Record of Injustice
American Progress, November 2004

A Secret Re-Writing of Military Law
New York Times, Oct. 24, 2004

Apologia Pro Tormento, June 9, 2004

Loyal to a Fault?, Nov. 11, 2004

Memo Offered Justification for Torture
Washington Post, June 8, 2004

Justice Memos Explained How to
Skip Prisoner Rights
New York Times, May 21, 2004

2001 Memo Reveals Push for Broader
Presidential Powers
Newsweek, Dec. 18, 2004

Gonzales Excludes CIA
from Rules on Prisoners
New York Times, Jan. 20, 2005

The Most Dangerous Lawyer in America
The Village Voice, Jan. 26, 2005

Two Amigos And Their Gulag Archipelago, May 12, 2005

Some Held at Guantanamo Are Minors,
Lawyers Say
New York Times, June 13, 2005

War and Lies:

The Downing Street Memo and
Related Documents

Illegally Financing the WMD Hoax
Media Monitors, May 27, 2005

The Secret's Out – Now What?, June 15, 2004

Ministers Were Told of Need
for Gulf War 'Excuse'
The Sunday Times (London), June 12, 1005

The Smoking Bullet in the Smoking Gun
Common Dreams, June 2, 2005

[US-UK] Bombing Raids Tried to Goad
Saddam Into War
The Sunday Times, May 29, 2005

The Lies That Led to War, May 19, 2005

Bush Wanted to Invade Iraq if Elected in 2000,
Says Family Biographer
Guerilla News, Oct. 27, 2004

British Military Chief Reveals
New Legal Fears Over Iraq War
The Observer, May 1, 2005

MI6 Chief Told PM:
Americans 'Fixed' Case for War
The Sunday Times, March 20, 2005

Ground Zero:
The Anatomy of an Honest Mistake
Empire Burlesque, Jan. 30, 2004

The Culture of Life:

CIA Kills in Pakistani Shadows
International Herald Tribune, May 16, 2005

CIA Takes on Major Military Role:
'We're Killing People!
Boston Globe, Jan. 20, 2002

Bush's Death Squads, Jan. 31, 2002

Bush Has Widened Authority of
CIA to Kill Terrorists
New York Times, Dec. 15, 2002

Special Ops Get OK to Initiate
Its Own Missions
Washington Times, Jan. 8, 2003

Our Designated Killers
Village Voice, Feb. 14, 2003

A U.S. License to Kill
Village Voice, Feb. 21, 2003

U.S. General From Abu Ghraib
Scandal Promoted
Stars and Stripes, March 15, 2005

Fighting Terrorism:

Former Bush Official Questions
Government 9/11 Story
The Washington Times, June 13, 2005

Cry Havoc: Bush's Own Personal Janjaweed
Empire Burlesque, Aug. 27, 2004

US Wants to Build Network of
Friendly Militias to Fight Terrorism
AFP, August 15, 2004

Pentagon Plan for Global Anti-Terror Army
Sydney Morning Herald, Aug. 11, 2004

Into the Dark:
The Pentagon Plan to Foment Terrorism
Empire Burlesque, Nov. 1, 2002

Darkness Visible:
The Pentagon Plan to Foment Terrorism is Now in Operation
Empire Burlesque, Jan. 25, 2005

Compassionate Conservatism:

Retirement's Unravelling Safety Net
Washington Post, June 14, 2005

Millions Are Dying Because of American Policies
Los Angeles Times, June 12, 2005

The G8 Rescue Plan: A Truckload of Nonsense
The Guardian, June 14, 2005

Body Blow: Bush's Worldwide War Against Women
Empire Burlesque, Oct. 3, 2003

Tax Breaks for Rich Murderers
London Review of Books, June 2, 2005

Virginity or Death!, May 19, 2005

The Richest Are Leaving Even the Rich Far Behind
New York Times, June 5, 2005

Promoting Democracy:

US Opposed Calls at Nato to
Probe Uzbek Killings
Washington Post, June 13, 2005

Catering to Kazakhstan's Kleptocracy, June 8, 2005

U.S. Helps Pakistan Torture U.S. Citizens
Human Rights Watch, May 24, 2005

Police in Azerbaijan Beat Protestors
Demanding Liberty Before Pipeline Opening
Washington Post, May 22, 2005

Reports Cite US and Egypt on Torture
Reuters, May 10, 2005

Bush Family History:

Heir to the Holocaust:
Prescott Bush, $1.5 Million and Auschwitz
Clamor Magazine, May/June 2002

Bush and the Nazis
Newsweek Poland, May 29, 2003

Bush-Nazi Dealings Continued Until 1951:
Federal Documents
New Hampshire Gazette, Nov. 7, 2003

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