A Pigeon Among the Cats
When people leave cults they often turn against their former beliefs with great vehemence. Arthur Koestler’s anthology “The God that Failed” is the perfect exposition of this syndrome. Jamaican communists of the 70s are now among the intellectual leaders of free market theology here. The volte face of such people usually perplexes their friends as much as or more than they baffle their enemies. The people who have fled from the polygamist Mormon sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) are as exotic to those they left behind as if they had come from another solar system.
People like me, who have been so drearily consistent for so long, have taken lots of flak for among other things, our critique of George Bush even before he was anointed President of the US. Millions of ordinary citizens in countries round the world opposed the looming war in Iraq and demonstrated against it. Then, the New York Times declared world public opinion to be the new, second superpower. Alas, they paid us no further attention.
I will never forget our public debate – the Hon. Don Mills and I versus the US chargé d’affaires just before the invasion. We knew the “evidence” was invented and that the war was unjustified and wrong. For that we were excoriated. We have now been joined by President Bush’s former Press Secretary who has just published his memoirs detailing how the presidency went off the rails. Scott McClellan was a faithful servant who seemed to be a clumsy and inept spokesman for the Administration when he stalwartly defended Bush and deflected US media stars in their febrile impersonations of journalists.
Now he is being described as a traitor.
McClellan’s book has become a political bombshell even before it comes officially onto the market tomorrow, provoking stunned, disbelieving reactions from his former associates.
Some of us, who have long considered the Bush administration to be a political cult, may be better able understand what has happened.
McClellan’s predecessor, Ari Fleischer says he can’t reconcile the McClellan of the book with the McClellan who was paid to defend Bush. “There is something about the book that just doesn’t make any sense.”
Fleischer said McClellan had been an “always reliable, solid deputy” during his own White House tenure – but “not once did Scott approach me – privately or publicly - to discuss any misgivings he had about the war in Iraq or the manner in which the White House made the case for war.
The President’s current spokeswoman said Wednesday –
"For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled," Dana Perino said in a statement. "It is sad. This is not the Scott we knew."
McClellan’s former associates can’t understand him because they think he has simply and unreasonably changed his mind or gone mad. What has changed is his belief system. As they say in the Bible, the scales have fallen from his eyes. His conscience has sprung rudely into exuberant life.
As Press Secretary, McClellan was speaking the truth as he received it in the White House. Those who blame him for not making his misgivings known then, while he was doing the job, miss the point entirely; he had no objections then. He was still a card-carrying member of the cult – a true believer.
Scott McClellan has literally been born again, as the cultists say. Neither he nor his critics realise that when he left the White House he was, unknown even to himself, heading down the Damascus road. He is no longer the man they knew.
And what pleases me inordinately is that he now fully justifies my contention, derided at the time, that US journalists were acting as Judas goats to the American people As Katy Couric (then NBC now CBS) and Jessica Yellin (CNN) have now courageously admitted, journalists submitted to pressure from the media owners to join the team, not to rock the boat but to deliver a nice little war.
I’m sorry I have to say it again, but I told you so at the tine.
Return of the floating barracoons?
Last Monday, May 26. was the 45th anniversary of Cuba’s first venture into what it calls its ‘internationalism’ On that date in 1963 Cuba dispatched a medical brigade to Algeria, then still bleeding from a successful but incredibly bloody war of independence against France. Fortuitously on the same date in 2008, a consignment of 4.5 tons of serum, medicines and sanitary materials donated by Cuba arrived in the earthquake ravaged capital of the Chinese province of Sichuan to help some of those injured in the May 12 earthquake.
In the 45 years between those events the Cuban people have sent abroad as many health workers as US troops in Iraq--140,000 of them – to more than a hundred foreign countries, some considerably richer than Cuba but all in need of help. They range from Nicaragua to Pakistan, Venezuela to Vietnam, Haiti and Jamaica to Angola and Bolivia. There are more than 10,000 Cubans in Venezuela, teachers, doctors and nurses. In Haiti they were helping the Haitians establish a medical school before they were rudely interrupted by the US Marines – arriving in aid of terrorists and drug-dealers who called themselves Freedom Fighters – coming to kidnap the democratically elected president of Haiti .
The Cubans are also hosts to more than 10,000 young foreigners in Cuban institutions learning everything from building construction to ophthalmology and organic farming.
The Cubans have achieved these and other advances despite having been for half a century the target of unremitting hostility from the world’s only superpower. I happened to be in Cuba on the very day in 1960 the US – having already sponsored various outrages designed to destroy the Cuban revolution – declared an embargo against them, an Act of War in international law.
The casus belli was Cuba’s decision to nationalise with compensation, the oil refineries, the sugar refineries and the enormous plantations owned by US corporations. If it were true that the US hostility was based on its desire to promote human rights in Cuba there is no way the American could have simultaneously protected and promoted such bloodthirsty tyrants and terrorists as the Duvaliers (Haiti), Stroessner (Paraguay), Somoza (Nicaragua), Rios Montt (Guatemala) Mobutu (Congo), Jonas Savimbi (Angola), the Cuban terrorists Luis Posada, Orlando Bosch and Santiago Alvarez and the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
And, if human rights were the motive, there would not now be five Cubans in American jails whose only crime was to try to warn the US against the activities of exiled Cuban terrorists in Miami. Nor would there now be living free in Miami notorious Cuban terrorists including those who blew up a Cuban airliner en route from Barbados to Jamaica in 1976 killing nearly a hundred young people. As Mr Bush has said, those who harbour terrorists are themselves terrorists.
These perverted policies have allowed the US to wreak billions of dollars worth of damage on the Cuban economy and to kill or maim thousands of Cubans.
The Cubans have within the last two weeks exposed new US mischief against their country. This involves official US behaviour which is illegal in international law, in US law and in Cuban law. Briefly, the Cubans have submitted proof that the chief American diplomat in Cuba has acted as a banker and conduit for money and other contraband, between convicted terrorist Santiago Alvarez in Miami and so-called human rights activists in Cuba. He also intervened with a federal judge to secure a lighter sentence for Alvarez then awaiting sentencing in Miami.
One sinister collateral disclosure is that there is or was, a plan to create some provocation in Cuba, backed up by American ships parked offshore various Cuban ports. I can imagine that if some agency were able to provoke some hysterical panic among Cubans the Americans would no doubt be willing to undertake a ‘humanitarian’ intervention by the US navy with ships offshore to rescue Cubans ‘fleeing’ their country.
It is a plan which, if applied in Jamaica, would depopulate the country within hours. Remember the ‘Russian ships’ panic of 1962?
Such a plan to provoke a Cuban exodus a la Mariel would of course, require the assistance of the Jamaican government to allow our ports to be used as temporary staging posts. Which may be why it is a good thing that Mr Golding has not yet been able to visit Mr Bush.
Of course, such a scenario is unthinkable. The Bush administration is much too scrupulous to try to destabilise the Cuban government. And George Bush I am certain, is perfectly content to allow the Revolution to survive its tenth American President.
He has no taste for defeat.
Copyright ©2008 John Maxwell