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Perspective: The United States Has Gone Mad

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 758 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA HAS GONE MAD By John le
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 15, 2003
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      THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA HAS GONE MAD
      By John le Carré
      The Times Online
      January 15, 2003

      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,482-543296,00.html

      America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is
      the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs
      and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War.

      The reaction to 9/11 is beyond anything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for
      in his nastiest dreams. As in McCarthy times, the freedoms that have made
      America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded. The
      combination of compliant US media and vested corporate interests is once
      more ensuring that a debate that should be ringing out in every town square
      is confined to the loftier columns of the East Coast press.

      The imminent war was planned years before bin Laden struck, but it was he
      who made it possible. Without bin Laden, the Bush junta would still be
      trying to explain such tricky matters as how it came to be elected in the
      first place; Enron; its shameless favouring of the already-too-rich; its
      reckless disregard for the world¹s poor, the ecology and a raft of
      unilaterally abrogated international treaties. They might also have to be
      telling us why they support Israel in its continuing disregard for UN
      resolutions.

      But bin Laden conveniently swept all that under the carpet. The Bushies are
      riding high. Now 88 per cent of Americans want the war, we are told. The US
      defence budget has been raised by another $60 billion to around $360
      billion. A splendid new generation of nuclear weapons is in the pipeline, so
      we can all breathe easy. Quite what war 88 per cent of Americans think they
      are supporting is a lot less clear. A war for how long, please? At what cost
      in American lives? At what cost to the American taxpayer¹s pocket? At what
      cost ‹ because most of those 88 per cent are thoroughly decent and humane
      people ‹ in Iraqi lives?

      How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America¹s anger from bin
      Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations conjuring
      tricks of history. But they swung it. A recent poll tells us that one in two
      Americans now believe Saddam was responsible for the attack on the World
      Trade Centre. But the American public is not merely being misled. It is
      being browbeaten and kept in a state of ignorance and fear. The carefully
      orchestrated neurosis should carry Bush and his fellow conspirators nicely
      into the next election.

      Those who are not with Mr Bush are against him. Worse, they are with the
      enemy . Which is odd, because I¹m dead against Bush, but I would love to see
      Saddam¹s downfall ‹ just not on Bush¹s terms and not by his methods. And not
      under the banner of such outrageous hypocrisy.

      The religious cant that will send American troops into battle is perhaps the
      most sickening aspect of this surreal war-to-be. Bush has an arm-lock on
      God. And God has very particular political opinions. God appointed America
      to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be
      the nexus of America¹s Middle Eastern policy, and anyone who wants to mess
      with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and
      d) a terrorist.

      God also has pretty scary connections. In America, where all men are equal
      in His sight, if not in one another¹s, the Bush family numbers one
      President, one ex-President, one ex-head of the CIA, the Governor of Florida
      and the ex-Governor of Texas.

      Care for a few pointers? George W. Bush, 1978-84: senior executive, Arbusto
      Energy/Bush Exploration, an oil company; 1986-90: senior executive of the
      Harken oil company. Dick Cheney, 1995-2000: chief executive of the
      Halliburton oil company. Condoleezza Rice, 1991-2000: senior executive with
      the Chevron oil company, which named an oil tanker after her. And so on. But
      none of these trifling associations affects the integrity of God¹s work.

      In 1993, while ex-President George Bush was visiting the ever-democratic
      Kingdom of Kuwait to receive thanks for liberating them, somebody tried to
      kill him. The CIA believes that ³somebody² was Saddam. Hence Bush Jr¹s cry:
      ³That man tried to kill my Daddy.² But it¹s still not personal, this war.
      It¹s still necessary. It¹s still God¹s work. It¹s still about bringing
      freedom and democracy to oppressed Iraqi people.

      To be a member of the team you must also believe in Absolute Good and
      Absolute Evil, and Bush, with a lot of help from his friends, family and
      God, is there to tell us which is which. What Bush won¹t tell us is the
      truth about why we¹re going to war. What is at stake is not an Axis of Evil
      ‹ but oil, money and people¹s lives. Saddam¹s misfortune is to sit on the
      second biggest oilfield in the world. Bush wants it, and who helps him get
      it will receive a piece of the cake. And who doesn¹t, won¹t.

      If Saddam didn¹t have the oil, he could torture his citizens to his heart¹s
      content. Other leaders do it every day ‹ think Saudi Arabia, think Pakistan,
      think Turkey, think Syria, think Egypt.

      Baghdad represents no clear and present danger to its neighbours, and none
      to the US or Britain. Saddam¹s weapons of mass destruction, if he¹s still
      got them, will be peanuts by comparison with the stuff Israel or America
      could hurl at him at five minutes¹ notice. What is at stake is not an
      imminent military or terrorist threat, but the economic imperative of US
      growth. What is at stake is America¹s need to demonstrate its military power
      to all of us ‹ to Europe and Russia and China, and poor mad little North
      Korea, as well as the Middle East; to show who rules America at home, and
      who is to be ruled by America abroad.

      The most charitable interpretation of Tony Blair¹s part in all this is that
      he believed that, by riding the tiger, he could steer it. He can¹t. Instead,
      he gave it a phoney legitimacy, and a smooth voice. Now I fear, the same
      tiger has him penned into a corner, and he can¹t get out.

      It is utterly laughable that, at a time when Blair has talked himself
      against the ropes, neither of Britain¹s opposition leaders can lay a glove
      on him. But that¹s Britain¹s tragedy, as it is America¹s: as our Governments
      spin, lie and lose their credibility, the electorate simply shrugs and looks
      the other way. Blair¹s best chance of personal survival must be that, at the
      eleventh hour, world protest and an improbably emboldened UN will force Bush
      to put his gun back in his holster unfired. But what happens when the
      world¹s greatest cowboy rides back into town without a tyrant¹s head to wave
      at the boys?

      Blair¹s worst chance is that, with or without the UN, he will drag us into a
      war that, if the will to negotiate energetically had ever been there, could
      have been avoided; a war that has been no more democratically debated in
      Britain than it has in America or at the UN. By doing so, Blair will have
      set back our relations with Europe and the Middle East for decades to come.
      He will have helped to provoke unforeseeable retaliation, great domestic
      unrest, and regional chaos in the Middle East. Welcome to the party of the
      ethical foreign policy.

      There is a middle way, but it¹s a tough one: Bush dives in without UN
      approval and Blair stays on the bank. Goodbye to the special relationship.

      I cringe when I hear my Prime Minister lend his head prefect¹s sophistries
      to this colonialist adventure. His very real anxieties about terror are
      shared by all sane men. What he can¹t explain is how he reconciles a global
      assault on al-Qaeda with a territorial assault on Iraq. We are in this war,
      if it takes place, to secure the fig leaf of our special relationship, to
      grab our share of the oil pot, and because, after all the public
      hand-holding in Washington and Camp David, Blair has to show up at the
      altar.

      ³But will we win, Daddy?²

      ³Of course, child. It will all be over while you¹re still in bed.²

      ³Why?²

      ³Because otherwise Mr Bush¹s voters will get terribly impatient and may
      decide not to vote for him.²

      ³But will people be killed, Daddy?²

      ³Nobody you know, darling. Just foreign people.²

      ³Can I watch it on television?²

      ³Only if Mr Bush says you can.²

      ³And afterwards, will everything be normal again? Nobody will do anything
      horrid any more?²

      ³Hush child, and go to sleep.²

      Last Friday a friend of mine in California drove to his local supermarket
      with a sticker on his car saying: ³Peace is also Patriotic². It was gone by
      the time he¹d finished shopping.

      ..........

      The author has also contributed to an open Democracy debate on Iraq at:

      http://www.openDemocracy.net

      ------------

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