irresponsible imperialists – is there another kind?
imperial rulers sink to new depths during election years. While U.S. soldiers
flounder in Iraq and Afghanistan, and curse those they came to liberate
and those who have put curses (voodoo) on them in Haiti, the imperial elite play
electoral attack games. “Honor the fallen,” Bush intones to the dead GIs. By
having more fall? But in election season, logic evaporates and candidates follow
scripts written by spinmeisters.
“strategists” concentrate on raising their rivals’ “negatives” – “the vacillator
who will raise taxes” or “the man who ruined the economy.” On Middle East issues,
however, Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee, backs Bush with different
euphemisms. On the Iraqi occupation he wants to “meet our obligations” or
“consult with partners and allies” and send 40,000 more U.S. troops into Iraq.
Kerry backs Bush’s unequivocal support for Israel – meaning the butcher Sharon.
and Palestinians experience April as their cruelest month. Iraqi casualties
range in the thousands. Palestinians mourn more of their newly murdered leaders,
including the April 17 rocket killing of Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the Hamas leader
and father of six.
the candidates agree on these “security” issues, American voters will have no
choices on Iraq or Israel policies. The veteran campaign managers tacitly offer
the electorate the old formula – “promise ‘em anything, give ‘em what they get
and fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.” Each contender vies for the “tough”
image and will say almost anything to sway voters and contributors.
“promise ‘em anything” method dates back at least to 1800. Candidate Thomas
Jefferson eschewed empire, but as President acquired the Louisiana Territory –
more land than previous supposedly imperial presidents. And, of course, Bush
(43), in his 2000 campaign, pledged to pull back from our overextended
commitments abroad. Remember? And look at us now!
early April, “Send ‘em in Bush” as some solders now call him, had to order his
general to retake key Iraqi cities – almost a year after he declared victory.
The White House underplays the gravity of the U.S. position in Iraq – more than
100 deaths and thousands wounded in April alone. The media dutifully reports the
drivel – “things are going well in Iraq” – contained in Pentagon and White House
Bush’s scenario, the “Sunni Triangle” is the problem, where bad guys from Saddam’s
Ba’ath Party and foreign terrorists have concentrated. A look at an Iraqi map,
however, shows that the triangle has morphed into a rectangle that carries well
into Shiite territory where people supposedly love us for liberating them.
Millions of Americans, according to polls, see through Bush’s rosy scenario –
despite the media’s reluctance to report on the depth of the insurrection in
Iraq. In addition, Bush’s Coalition shows signs of splintering. Spanish voters,
in pain over the loss of lives from the March 11 train bombings and indignant
over lies and cover-ups from the ruling Party, ousted Premiere Jose Maria Aznar,
the Bush butt kisser. Other coalition members (like Poland) have expressed
bitterness over being misled and downright tricked. Instead of helping with
peacekeeping, their soldiers get shot and captured by the very people they’re “helping.”
Even Honduras withdrew its 300 troops as Iraqi ire mounted.
doesn’t have to search for reasons for anti-U.S. sentiment. Marines took revenge
for the late March killing of four mercenaries by targeting populated urban
areas. Hospital personnel in Fallujah reported that U.S. forces massacred 600 or
more people. Al-Jazeera, Arab television, transmitted images that media here
refused to run, showing Fallujah as a killing field whose morgue contains bodies
of women and children.
more serious from a world policy standpoint, Bush capitulated to Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon. By agreeing to Israel’s staking permanent claim to six
large West Bank settlements and to her rejecting the Palestinian right of return,
Bush defied both basic law and morality. He also erased even the façade of a
line between U.S. and Israeli interests and thus made potential targets of U.S.
citizens. The Muslim world and even most of our traditional friends were shocked
and horrified. Sharon gloated. If Americans become victims of Palestinian
terrorists, the identification of U.S. and Israeli interests becomes tighter.
pulled his fast one while Washington danced to the out of tune music of its
election season. He waited until April 14, the day before Americans send in
their tax returns, to announce Israel’s permanent occupation of some settlements
– the rich ones on the West Bank – and withdrawal from the low rent areas of
also dismissed the legally established right of return of Palestinian refugees
of the 1948 war. Bush bobbed his head approvingly. And, trumpeted Sharon, barely
suppressing a shit-eating grin, Palestinians should consider this his last and
most “generous” offer.
urging Bush to accept this legally dubious offer, Karl Rove must have calculated
that kissing Sharon’s massive tuchus could win Bush enough Jewish votes to swing
a state or two – to say nothing of increased campaign contributions by those
Jews who chant Israel uber alles.
plan had already received vetting from Bush’s neo con and Christian
fundamentalist gurus, the very planners of the Iraq war strategy. Right wing
Christian biblical predictions call for Israel to wage war against Arabs, which
will lead to Armageddon and then Rapture. The mostly Jewish neo cons consider
expansionist Israel as a non-negotiable pillar of western policy. Indeed, former
Defense Poly Board Chair Richard Perle and Under Secretary of Defense for
Policy Douglas Feith co-authored the 1996 “A Clean Break: A New Strategy
for Securing the Realm,” in which they inter the 1994 Oslo Accords and elaborate
plans for a war on Iraq. The Oslo Accords stipulated that Israel return the
Palestinian land it took in 1967. Israel had “settled” much of this area since
then. The neo cons think that returning territory to Palestinians violates
political logic – and to hell with international law.
Kerry brain trust, fearing the loss of Jewish votes and media, echoed Bush’s
line. Commenting on the Israeli assassination of Rantisi, Kerry parroted to an
NBC interviewer: “I believe that Israel has every right to
respond to terror threats against it...Friendship and support for Israel,
the only true democracy in the Middle East,” Kerry intoned, and added the “our
most important ally” cliché as well. He accepts “the Bush Administration's road
map – albeit long overdue – as an acceptable approach for reinvigorating the
peace process.” And, of course, “America’s
longstanding commitment to Israel’s independence and survival must never waver.”
Political chestnuts replace reality, but then take on the weight of authority.
Consider Bush’s April 13 press conference statements. He referred again to non-existent
links between Iraqi resistance fighters, suicide bombers in Israel and the
assassination of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl – who the al-Qaeda
mob in Pakistan did in for being Jewish. Then he lumped Muqtada al-Sadr, the
Iraqi Shiite cleric, with the Palestinian terrorists in Hamas and the Hezbollah
party in Lebanon. The absence of facts don’t phase him; nor does he face the
consequences of committing the United States to illegal territorial claims and
erasing the façade of even a posture of neutrality on the Middle East. As
precedent, the Sharon-Bush doctrine essentially established that a group with
superior might can claim land in an international dispute.
addition, Bush further validated Sharon’s murder tactics by not condemning the
April 17 guided missile assassination of Rantisi. On March 22, Israeli gun ships
had fired missiles at worshippers emerging from a mosque in a populated
neighborhood in Gaza. Eight people died including Hamas’ spiritual leader, the
blind and wheel-chair bound Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. More than two dozen others were
wounded. No court had tried and found Yassin guilty of a crime. He was simply
assassinated and Washington assented.
“targeted killings” will not end with Rantisi’s death. Indeed, The April 19
Pakistani The News, claims that a Sharon Cabinet official warned that
Hamas’ politburo chief Khaled Meshaal, who resides in Damascus and has become
the movement’s undisputed head, would suffer “an identical fate.”
late blind cleric had endorsed suicide bombings in Israel, according to Israeli
Interior Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi. “The days of the terrorist chiefs and
commanders who will now spend all their time trying to survive and still prepare
attacks are numbered.”
in fact, represented moderation. Sharon, immoderate and never a supporter of
Oslo, has now made clear that, despite his promises, he does not intend a
Palestinian state to emerge.
the Israeli-Palestinian horror worsens. Success is not quite on the horizon in
Iraq, Afghanistan and Haiti. Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward claimed on
“60 Minutes” (April 18) that Bush misdirected $700 million of funds that
Congress had authorized for Afghanistan toward the Iraq War – an impeachable
offence, albeit not as serious as lying about sex.
welcome to that Olympian season where the emperor and his rival say anything in
order to direct the world’s greatest empire – oops, I mean republic, of course.
Landau’s new film, SYRIA:
BETWEEN IRAQ AND A HARD PLACE is distributed by Cinema Guild (800-723-5522). His
new book is THE PRE-EMPTIVE EMPIRE: A GUIDE TO BUSH’S KINGDOM. He teaches at Cal
Poly Pomona University and is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.