Licensed to Kill
"Why should there be one standard for one country, especially because it is black, and another one for another country … that is white. "
In September 2002 the Iraq War was still six months and dozens of lies in the future. People all over the world were still appealing to the good sense of President Bush– a chimera – as it transpired. They thought that they could appeal to reason, to an ethical consciousness, to the general human instinct to obey the rule of law and the mores of the community of which you are a constituent.
Some of us were not fooled.
Nelson Mandela, for instance, whose words are quoted above, was not taken in by the lies and pretensions of the American junta. I was myself excoriated for my treatment of Bush and his coven. In fact I had revealed what some saw as my prejudice when I wrote, before Bush was ennobled by the Supreme Court:
"The real George Bush, if he is appointed President, will use his time to destroy the integrity of the country he rules, starting with the Supreme Court. Then he can start on dealing with the rest of us. That's his job, and as the American Press has made plain, nothing needs to be known about him and his multifarious incapacities because Big Brother in the giant corporations will tell him what to do.
We are all in a for a very rough ride." –Democracy? Enough Already!
That was written on December 8, 2000, before the hooligans in Florida and their accomplices on the US Supreme Court presented the world with the precious gift of G. W. Bush.
Less than a year later, a few days after the 9/11 attack, I wrote "No matter how violent and horrific, the terrorist action on Tuesday remains an act of criminal violence, not an act of war. Various spokesmen and supporters of the US government, including Tony Blair, the British PM, speak of attacking and defeating Terrorism as if there were some central directorate, a sort of Terror International, with identifiable officials and institutions. "
Like most of the human race I was alarmed by the reactions of those in power in the US and Britain:
" Mr Bush, whose own legitimacy has been questioned,, speaks, even more ominously, of "ending states " that support terror, as if politics were a video-game in which the baddies can simply be zapped into non-existence. One of his spokesmen, a Mr Wolfowitz, is even scouting the possibility of targeted assassinations of foreign leaders. Dead terrorists, of course, can't be punished. Someone else must therefore pay."
Many thought that some of these ideas were uttered in the heat and panic of the moment.
Some of us were not so sure. Nelson Mandela again:
" If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace. Because what [America] is saying is that if you are afraid of a veto in the Security Council, you can go outside and take action and violate the sovereignty of other countries.
"That is the message they are sending to the world. That must be condemned in the strongest terms. And you will notice that France, Germany Russia, China are against this decision. It is clearly a decision that is motivated by George W. Bush's desire to please the arms and oil industries in the United States of America. "
As I wrote at the time: "The all important quartet who are for war are Bush himself, Field Marshal von Rumsfeld, the elusive vice-President Dick Cheney and that ineffable puritan and creationist in chief, John Ashcroft. Between them, they have spent not one day as soldiers, but they are anxious now to prove their steely mettle to the last drop of someone else son's blood. "
Mr Wolfowitz's idea of targeted assassinations, most of us thought, was well outside of civilised behaviour; not what we would expect from the leaders of a great democracy.
But in Mr Bush's State of the Union address in 2003, he made some disquieting remarks –
"In Afghanistan, we helped to liberate an oppressed people, and we will continue helping them secure their country, rebuild their society and educate all their children, boys and girls.…As our nation moves troops and builds alliances to make our world safer, we must also remember our calling, as a blessed country, is to make the world better…To date we have arrested or otherwise dealt with many key commanders of Al Qaeda. …All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries.
"And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies."
In this speech Mr Bush accused Saddam Hussein of great lies, of denying possession of huge stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, of concealing his nuclear capabilities, of trying to buy uranium from Africa – for the news of which Mr Bush credited Tony Blair and the British. It was a tour de force of deception and an attempt to frighten the world in joining the US in an illegal, preventive war. It was Mr Bush's argument for the persecution and murder of Saddam Hussein.
We all know the consequences; Iraq is en route to becoming a satellite of Iran and heading for geopolitical dismemberment; Afghanistan is in flames; Pakistan is teetering on the edge of dissolution and Al Quaida is accusing the US of plotting to seize Pakistan's nuclear armoury. The new US administration is trying bravely to restore American credibility, to dispose of thousands of people scraped up from all over the world, tortured and imprisoned without cause.
And, we finally have confirmation that Mr Wolfowitz's modest proposal for the US to send professional killers abroad to murder people suspected of disloyalty to the US was, put into effect , as Mr Bush hinted in his State of the Union speech. Unknown numbers of people considered enemies by Bush and Cheney were quietly liquidated, erased from the human record, "terminated with extreme prejudice" – foully murdered by agents of a state out of its mind.
" … And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies."
Many of us thought that this was Bush rhodomontade, exaggeration to preen. We now know that this illegal programme was in fact a reality. We know that the government of the United States was itself actively subverting the laws and Constitution of the United States of America, contravening settled International Law and Conventions and the charter of the United Nations and betraying all principles of decency and civilised behaviour. And we now know who was in charge.
I admit to a severe prejudice against Dick Cheney, who I regard as an unprincipled, rapaciously greedy predator – a sort of human Komodo Dragon.
Cheney is terminally weird. His wife reported that when Cheney was a Congressman and an aide in the Reagan White House – " … we lived in Washington and our daughters were young, he would take them on weekends to visit battlefields, or sometimes to watch a battle re-enactment. Liz and Mary loved spending time with him, but on occasion they were heard to beg for relief -- a trip to the zoo,maybe. "
I know I risk boring you with another quote from an old column, this from August 11, 2000 entitled "The persistence of Delusion":
"Am I alone in thinking there is something weird about a man who would force his infant daughters to study battlefields? And, since most battlefields in the US are Civil War battlefields, isn't it pretty clear what was in the back of his mind?
"Cheney has never been bashful about being backward and reactionary. As a congressman he voted against the Head Start Education programme for poor children, against the banning of armour piercing, flesh-destroying bullets, he opposed the Clean Water Act, he was against insurance for people who had lost their jobs, against the school lunch programme, against abortion for women even if the mother's life was in danger and even if she had been raped. Cheney is the naked face of US reaction …"
The US Congress has been startled by many disclosures, but none, I think, as profoundly as the recent discovery that Cheney, lacking any legal authority to do so, had instructed the Central Intelligence Agency to launch a clandestine programme to murder people deemed to be enemies of Cheney or Bush who, together, clearly, constituted and embodied the state of the United States of America.
This is not an exaggeration: Cheney ordered the CIA not to disclose this programme to the Congress of the United States in stark contravention of the law and Constitution of the United States. It seems that it was almost by accident that the current head of the CIA, Leon Panetta, heard of the programme and discovered that it was still operational. He closed it down immediately.
In some countries Mr Cheney's behaviour in subverting an agency of the state to perform criminal acts would be deemed 'High Treason" with all the condign penalties attaching.
Anyone who incites or deputises other people to cause grievous bodily harm to third parties is guilty of a serious criminal offence, according to laws in force in every country in the world. Anyone who commits, solicits or incites murder is a murderer and if he does so as a means of intimidating other people he is a terrorist.
In his holy war against Terror, Mr Bush was clearly looking in the wrong direction.
Copyright©2009 John Maxwell