April 21, 2003

War Heroes and Criminals

  • The New York Times ran a front page ad for Don Rumsfeld in its Sunday edition with a mindless article called "After the War, New Stature for Rumsfeld" by Matthew Purdy. This is such a baseless set up, such a weak premise upon which to build a fan letter to Rummy. Are we to conclude that because the massive military machine of the US could defeat the meager defenses of a poor, broken down third world country, that Rumsfeld is some kind of genius? Could anyone else in Rumsfeld's position have found a way to lose that war? The US military machine is the beneficiary of hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Iraq managed to put $1.4 billion into its annual military budget. All this hullaballoo about these "war" heroes would have a little more veracity if this were really a war with some justification. It's aggression of the Bush administration, a seizure of a defenseless country based on transparently false and ever-shifting pretexts. For the Times to play along with the theater, to ignore the lies and the lack of justification for this invasion, and just splash this gushy promotion of one of the principal war criminals across its front page is vulgar. Ugh.
  • On the other hand, the Times runs some columnists who don't constantly plant smooshy kisses on the asses of George W. Bush and Company. Bob Herbert's "Profiting from War" is an example, in which Herbert answers the question: "War -- what is it good for?" For the big defense contractors who slip back and forth between government and corporate America. One example is George Schultz, secretary of state under Ronald Reagan and a principal member of the Bechtel Group. Last September Schultz, chairman of the war-advocate Committee for the Liberation of Iraq wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post urging war on Iraq. Titled "Act Now; The Danger Is Immediate," it said, "A strong foundation exists for immediate military action against Hussein and for a multilateral effort to rebuild Iraq after he is gone." Now Bechtel Group has been awarded a $680 million contract for that rebuilding. It didn't even have to bid against competing companies. What is the death of a few thousand Iraqis compared to the massive profits (courtesy the American taxpayer) of Bechtel? As Madeline Albright said about the deaths of Iraqi children from the sanctions, it's a price that is worth it, at least to the corporate elite.
  • Meanwhile another former Reagan-Bush insider has reared his ugly head yet again on the seamy side of a grave issue. James Baker, who was a chief prevaricator in the stealing of election 2000 has now emerged on the side that is opposed to the families of victims of 911. The legal team that is defending the Saudis against a $1 trillion dollar lawsuit filed by the families of the vicitms is Baker Botts, a Houston law firm, of which James Baker is a member. For the story on the lawsuit, see MSNBC. For more on Baker Botts, see bakerbotts.com and bakerbotts.com/attorneys.
  • The black market for stolen antiquities rivals the illegal drug trade. In the aftermath of the looting of the National Museum in Baghdad, it is becoming clear that within the greater war crimes of the invasion of Iraq are also many layers of crimes against humanity in the looting and destruction of the archaeological treasures of that museum. And once again, we see the fingerprints of corrupt government. For an in-depth look at the crimes, see The World Socialist Web Site
  • It's going to take creativity and a sense of humor to beat back the death-mongers. One exemplary group is Code Pink: Women's Pre-emptive Strike for Peace.
  • After employees agreed to give back $10 billion in salaries to help keep the airline afloat, it emerged that the top execs were ransacking the company for millions in bonuses. CEO Don Carty, who has a salary of over $800,000 was to receive a $1.6 million bonus, presumably as a reward for guiding the company to bankrutptcy. The union got very pissed and the execs offered to try to live on their six-figure incomes for a while. See New York Post and News Tribune for details.
  • Anthony B. Robinson of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has it right. This is not a time for a victory celebration. See "War in Iraq a reason for shame".
  • John Pilger, writing in the Independent, points out that all the attention on the saving of one little boy is a convenient cover for the real brutality of the Iraq massacre. Says Pilger: "Iraq is the 'test case', says the Bush regime, which every day sails closer to Mussolini's definition of fascism: the merger of a militarist state with corporate power."
  • Regarding the much-hyped "weapons of mass destruction," there is "Growing evidence of deception by Washington. See the Independent.
  • Are the polls fake? Or are Americans really falling for the lies? A poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows Bush approval ratings up over 70, though still not as high as his loser father after the Gulf War.
  • Poor Dan Rather. It's hard to report on people in power who are blatant liars, on top of being enthusiastic mass murderers. Rumsfeld criticized the press for exaggerating the looting in Baghdad. Rather approached Rumsfeld's blatant lie and manipulation thusly: "Well, I don't have any argument with the Defense Secretary. But I will say that I'm here. I try to be an honest reporter, be an honest broker of information. And I--it's my judgment that if Secretary Rumsfeld had been here, he might have worded that at least in a somewhat different way. There's no question the looting has been rampant and widespread. It was for several days here. We were told that it began to taper off some today. And in fact, I think it did, but primarily because most things of value have been stripped out of most places where they could be. But you know, it's not a time to argue. The Defense Secretary has his judgment, and if that's his judgment, well, he'll ride with it. But as a reporter, I can simply say that I don't--I've never seen anything like the looting here. I don't think anybody else has seen anything like the looting here. It was widespread, and it did have a depressing effect on the population. To say that it was just, quote, "exuberance," unquote--you know, the Secretary of Defense has to talk about a lot, and he probably would want to take back that word himself, if he had a chance to do so." Yeah, if he had the chance (?!) he'd probably tell the truth. See The Nation.

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