by Gilles d'Aymery
"It often happens that, if a lie be believed only for an hour, it has done its work, and there is no further occasion for it."
—Swift, The Examiner, 1715
(Swans - May 23, 2005) CLASS AND BIPARTISANSHIP: There's been a ruckus of sort, a mini uproar, in regard to the Rycroft Report -- that is, Downing Street Memo -- originally published on May 1, 2005 by the London Sunday Times, and which can be read at downingstreetmemo.com. The memo indubitably proves that the Bushies decided to invade Iraq as early as the summer of 2002 and fixed the intelligence accordingly. "Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and W.M.D. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
"Do we care about lies?" asked Clay Evans in the Boulder (Colorado). John Atcheson expressed his dismay in "The Last Straw: The Press's Failure to Cover the Rycroft Memo." Juan Cole had much to say about "The lies that led to war." Paul Craig Roberts submitted for the nth time that "America's Reputation [is] in Tatters," on Antiwar.com (and CounterPunch under a different title). Ivan Eland of The Independent Institute reflected on the "Public Acceptance of Imperial Presidency." Perhaps the best coverage of the affair was by Mark Danner and Tom Engelhardt in "The Smoking Gun Memo" at Tom Dispatch (also at Antiwar and Zmag); and for a bit of humor about the letter Rep. John Conyers and 88 of his colleagues sent to Mr. Bush regarding the "troubling allegations," one should not miss Sylvester Brown Jr.'s piece in the St. Louis, Missouri Post-Dispatch, "Conyers Looks for News in the Wrong Place." (Even Paul Krugman expressed his indignation in a New York Times Op-Ed of May 16, 2005, "Staying What Course?")
Yet, the story has not had much leg, as Matthew Clark of the Christian Science Monitor explained in his May 17 Daily Update, "Why has 'Downing Street memo' story been a 'dud' in US?" ("A mid-2002 British memo saying US was planning to 'fix' intelligence to fit plans to invade Iraq has not been big news.")
How can this be possible? How can it be that in America, if you lie about sex you get impeached, but if you lie about War and Peace, and that these lies lead to the death of over 100,000 Iraqis and 1,600 US soldiers, more than 15,000 wounded or disabled (that's just on the US side -- it does not account for the Iraqis or the members of the coalition of the "dwindling")...and counting...it's just business as usual? How can the Memo be so easily dismissed as "flat and wrong" by the White House press secretary Scott McClellan? "The president of the United States, in a very public way, reached out to people across the world, went to the United Nations and tried to resolve this in a diplomatic manner," McClellan said. "Saddam Hussein was the one, in the end, who chose continued defiance. And only then was the decision made, as a last resort, to go into Iraq," he added. The destruction of an entire country based on Saddam's defiance, not on a pack of lies... Troubling, no?
And even more troubling, how can it be that economic sanctions against and blockade of Iraq for about a decade, resulting in the death of over 1,000,000 people, mostly children -- a policy deemed "worth it" by Madeleine Albright, but defined by former Representative David Bonior as "infanticide masquerading as politics -- when Iraq had no WMD is not cause for not only outrage, but an International War Crimes Tribunal, Nuremberg-like, as well?
Why, oh why?
To answer these questions you need to look at the recent picture of democratic senator Hillary Rodham Clinton with former House Speaker (and arch-conservative) Newt Gingrich looking paternally over her, as they delivered remarks on health care reform, about ten days ago. That's the Hillary Clinton who, in January 1998, used to talk about the "vast right-wing conspiracy" that had been hounding her husband and president of the USA, Bill Clinton, over the sex allegations, which culminated in the impeachment trial of January 7-February 12, 1999. And who was leading the charge against her husband? Newt Gingrich, the powerful speaker of the House at the time! From deadly "enemies," to kiss-kiss friends...talk about ideological evolution! You need to also look at the belly dance former presidents G. H. W. Bush (Bush Sr.) and Bill Clinton do as they go around the nation and abroad to promote whatever cause du jour. They've become such close friends that charmin' Bill looks upon Barbara like some kind of surrogate mother!
And if you are not yet convinced, you should watch the video of the testimony that George Galloway, the fiery MP Respect for Bethnal Green and Bow, gave to the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the US Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on May 17, 2005 (Mr. Galloway is accused of having received oil kickbacks, a claim based on what looks like a forged document). The subcommittee was chaired by Senator Norm Coleman, the Minnesota Republican, and co-chaired by Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat. You can access the video in Windows Media player format on two locations on the BBC site -- Location #1 or Location #2 -- or in Real Player format at informationclearinghouse.info.
Watch the Q&A session after Mr. Galloway's splendid statement and you'll see how the so-called "liberal" democrat (Levin) and the nauseous conservative (Coleman) work in unison, after having received a solid whipping, to attempt, quite unsuccessfully, to corner and pigeon-hole Galloway. Whether the subcommittee's Web site will post the video, or even the text of Galloway's statement is anyone's guess. The site states as of May 21, 2005, that "Mr. Galloway did not submit a statement" -- a rather bizarre assertion since you can find it in quite a few places on the Web, including here on Swans. Hey, that brings a whole new meaning to the old saying, "out of sight, out of mind" ... or is it now, "out of site, out of mind?
What may look like odd couples (Clinton-Gingrich, Bush-Clinton, Coleman-Levin), especially to our non-US readers, is nothing more than a fair representation of the bicephalous system, which we have decried for ages, and the consensus of the leadership in both parties. It's neither faith-based nor reality-based; it's class-based. Both the democrats and the republicans have long known that Iraq had no WMDs. Both democrats and republicans had long decided to invade Iraq, even before the tragic events of 9/11/2001, even before Bush Jr.'s selection by the Supreme Court in 2000. This is real business, not morality peccadilloes à la Clinton's sexcapades. Corporate America and, consequently, the US government, are circling the wagons. The lines of demarcation between the two parties are blurred, but for a few on the fringes of both (Ron Paul on the libertarian right, Cynthia McKinney and Barbara Lee, on the "left.")
This has nothing to do with "lies." As Harvey Wasserman recently noted, there is nothing new about US lies:
The "smoking gun" documents that emerged in the recent British election confirm the administration had decided to go to war and then sought "intelligence" to sell it.
But conscious, manipulative lies were also at the root of American attacks on Cuba in 1898, US intervention into World War I in 1917 and in Vietnam. These lies are as proven and irrefutable as the unconscionable deception that dragged the U.S. into Iraq in 2003.
In each case, these lies of war have caused horrific human slaughter, the destruction of human rights and liberties, and financial disaster.
(Wasserman, "Four Bloody Lies of War, from Havana 1898 to Baghdad 2003," Columbus Free Press, May 8, 2005.)
It has everything to do with what it has always been. Class privileges. Trotsky once said,
The bourgeoisie, even though it finds itself in a complete contradiction with the demands of historical progress, nevertheless still remains the most powerful class. More than that, it may be said that politically the bourgeoisie attains its greatest powers, its greatest concentration of forces and resources, of political and military means of deception, of coercion, and provocation, i.e., the flowering of its class strategy, at the moment when it is most immediately threatened by social ruin...
Yes, I know, same old, same old... Why would one call upon an old commie to explain what's going on? I mean, who are those people, in the first place?
Well, according to Bill Moyers, a "liberal" old-timer, they are,
...the people obsessed with control, using the government to threaten and intimidate. I mean the people who are hollowing out middle-class security even as they enlist the sons and daughters of the working class in a war to make sure Ahmed Chalabi winds up controlling Iraq's oil. I mean the people who turn faith-based initiatives into a slush fund and who encourage the pious to look heavenward and pray so as not to see the long arm of privilege and power picking their pockets. I mean the people who squelch free speech in an effort to obliterate dissent and consolidate their orthodoxy into the official view of reality from which any deviation becomes unpatriotic heresy. (Speech to the National Conference for Media Reform, St. Louis, MO, May 15, 2005.)
"The long arm of privilege and power picking their [our] pockets..."
So yes, maybe it's time to call upon the old commies again...
Especially when you look at what's happening to the pension plans of American workers, which are fast disappearing. United Airlines simply reneged on its obligations. Next will be all other US airlines. Then, GM and Ford will default on their own commitments...and on, and on. Presumably, the government will take over these corporate obligations (remember, in the USA, we socialize losses and privatize profits...) though, getting broke itself, chances are workers -- that's us, folks -- will get the short end of the stick, once again.
But no worry, Newt and Hillary are up to solving it all, starting with the privatization of Social Security, and all the way down our wallets -- though the wallets are already empty (US median household debt is over $100,000).
QUOTATION FOR THE AGES: "Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."
--President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1952
Well, that was 53 years ago... Since then the stupidity has remained equal but the number has grown to include at least two-thirds of the body politic. How long will it take before we stop hearing of that [bicephalous] party in our political history?
OIL KICKBACKS: Carl Levin, apparently, was much troubled to find out that people had profited from the oil-for-food program, and he was shocked, shocked, shocked, that George Galloway refused to be troubled by the practice (again watch the Q&A following Galloway's statement). It shows how much those senators live in a total vacuum, in a reality of their own, oblivious to the "real" world. I've worked in the oil and gas business (LPG) long enough, in a refining company, a trading company, and a brokering firm to know better than Carl Levin. I can't recall one deal that did not involve some kind of bribery or kickbacks, small or large, from the occasional bottles of champagne, weekends in exotic destinations, envelopes stuffed with cash passed over the table in a fancy restaurant, all the way up to $5.00 per metric ton! Then again, Mr. Levin, a veteran of multiple political and fund-raising campaigns, must have some familiarity with hypocrisy...
LOOKS WHO'S TALKING: Following the retraction of the Newsweek story on the Quran (a story most probably true), US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had this to say: "People lost their lives. People are dead." "People need to be very careful about what they say, just as they need to be careful about what they do." Was he also thinking about what he, and the entire Bush administration, were saying in 2002 and early 2003 before invading Iraq?
EIGHTY PERCENT of the American people want to see American values exported all over the world. Meanwhile, 70 percent of all over the world don't want to import American values. They must hate our freedoms... Send the Marines! (Oops, sorry, they're already there...all over the world...exporting our most cherished values like McDonald's, Coke, Abu Ghraib, lies, exploitation, death, and the like.) Perhaps this global rejection is related to the reputation Paul Craig Roberts has been discoursing on for quite some time...
WANT TO HELP VENEZUELA? Fill your motor vehicle at gas stations owned by the Venezuelan government, CITGO and its affiliates. Boycott ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Chevron, etc.; buy from CITGO. To find a station near you, go to the company's store locator at http://www.citgo.com/CITGOLocator/StoreLocator.jsp, enter your zip code -- and voila!
BOONVILLE NEWS: I hear, thanks to the publisher/editor of our local paper, that a Coast Guard HC-130 visited the Anderson Valley. Flew back and forth over our pristine vineyards... Did not hear it personally -- maybe I was taking a nap...or whatever. This was the main news, on the front page of the once Anderson Valley Advertiser, which increasingly is following the trend of the once US of A (cf. Milo Clark).
Way to go...I suppose...
They have not shot me yet!
Ç'est la vie...
And so it goes...