It's unfortunate that Bush doesn't understand what is happening in the world he so arrogantly believes he owns. The European trip he's on now is a barely concealed attempt to strong-arm support for his upcoming invasion of Iran. An invasion, according to former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter, which Bush has already approved, and is slated for June 2005.
Although the mainstream media is steadfastly refusing to investigate or report this startling news, Ritter, speaking on Feb. 19 to a packed house in the Capitol Theater in Olympia, Washington, maintains that “an official involved in the manipulation” was his source. In a release from United for Peace of Pierce County, Washington, reporter Mark Jensen wrote that Ritter said this announcement would “soon be reported by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist in a major metropolitan magazine -- an obvious allusion to The New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh.”
For those who expect the media to interview Ritter -- the man at the top of their “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” list for shouting until he was hoarse before, during and after the war that there were no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq -- it could be a long wait. However, it's been scarcely a month since Hersh laid out the entire nasty scenario in his piece, “The Coming Wars,” in the January 24-31 issue of The New Yorker.
Hersh was told by a former high-level intelligence official, “This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign ... Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign,” the official said. “We've declared war and the bad guys wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah -- we've got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.”
According to Hersh, a government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon told him that “in order to destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible,” the administration “has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran since at least last summer.”
Since Bush's hawkish handlers refuse to allow him to negotiate, the plan, Hersh says, is to “act” once it becomes clear that the European-negotiated approach cannot succeed. To act? What does “to act” mean? Does Bush actually believe this is some deranged Punch and Judy puppet show; that once the curtain falls on his last hurrah, the hundreds of thousands -- perhaps millions in four years -- of maimed and dead will rise up, brush themselves off and go out for coffee?
The point, then, of Bush's trip across the pond this week must be to admonish the doddering members of “old Europe” to get their act together; to suck it up and admit they were wrong about the Iraq war, and fall in behind him as he heads for Iran -- because he's moving out and he's the leader.
And, they've been warned. Bush's visit follows Secretary of State Condi Rice's whirlwind trip, wherein she swept through Europe lecturing, scolding and warning European leaders if they don't toe the U.S. line, they're in danger of being put back into “time out” or worse because, as they have all been reminded ad infinitum, all options are on the table.
About the only thing both Bush and Rice are proving is that they don't have a clue. They seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that the trans-Atlantic alliance is at the breaking point. Although the Christian Science Monitor is reporting that NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer “is set to announce” that the alliance's 26 members are signed on to helping in Iraq in some capacity," William Pfaff writes in the International Herald Tribune that the alliance's George Robertson says, “NATO will provide no further help to the United States in Iraq -- meaning that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's principal European members refuse to let the alliance do so.”
Pfaff said he has recently attended several European conferences of political specialists, policy analysts, and past and present officials from both sides of the Atlantic who were concerned about current affairs as well as the future. He said, “In every case, wherever it started, discussion quickly turned into a debate about how to cope with the Bush administration's new America, seen as a disturber of world peace and a risk to the security even of its allies.”
According to Pfaff, the conferences were attended by Washington neo-conservative officials whose speeches were celebrations of American power and victory in Iraq. He said these officials were “implicitly condescending,” and they said that Europe needed to "grow up" and face the terrorism threat." They demanded apologies from the Europeans for having failed to support the United States. "They still were saying that if you didn't agree, you are "irrelevant," Pfaff said.
In his wonderful 1941 novel, H. M Pulham, Esquire, John P. Marquand gives us Bojo Brown, a “Dubya” character who has thrown his weight around since he was a little schoolyard bully who possessed “qualities of leadership.” The protagonist, Henry Pulham, is completely under the sway of an adult Bojo, unchanged since his boys' school days, but Pulham's friend Bill King isn't fooled for a minute.
“Some day,” King said, “someone is going to stop that bastard. He ought to get a kick in the pants.”
Pulham said, “As a matter of fact, there are lots of nice things about Bojo.”
“The trouble with you is,” King said, “you always play the game.”
“Well, what's wrong with playing the game?” Pulham asked.
“Because you're old enough not to be playing it,” King said. “He's a bastard. And he's never had a kick in the pants.”
The US media is out there, playing the game. Each word “Bojo” Bush utters is cast before the European audience like pearls before so many swine. The media boasts that Bush plans to “go beyond” the European leaders and seize the opportunity to chat with the “peoples” of Europe. The thousands of protesters are “disappeared” as if they didn't exist, and there is no mention of the iron bubble surrounding Bush as he rolls around in what is reported to be an unprecedented security lockdown. How do you talk to a guy in a bubble while a sniper on a rooftop has you in his sights and you're being shackled and pepper-sprayed?
If the crude and ill-mannered Bush is aware of the strain he has caused throughout Europe; if he cares that the “peoples” of every corner of the world see him not only as a danger, but as a threat to their very survival, it doesn't seem to matter to him or to his pantleg-humping media courtiers. Bush continues to slyly warn Iran, Syria, North Korea, China, et al, that some of the options on his table could be for them if they don't behave. And, later this week when he meets Vladimir “You call me President Bush and I'll call you Pootie-Poot” Putin, Bush will put him on notice that he will not tolerate any further backsliding in Russia's democratic reforms.
But, at least Bush seems to be enhanced with France. When asked if he would invite French President Jacques Chirac to his Texas ranch, he joked, “I'm looking for a good cowboy.”
The Bush/Chirac handshake was shown so many times from so many angles on CNN that it's surprising someone didn't suggest the two leaders get a room. Bush was so eager to prove he was ready to forgive Chirac for his past sins, he pointed to Chirac and blurted out to the media, “I'm having dinner with him. The fact that he’s the first man I've eaten with in Europe since I was re-elected oughta tell you somethin’...”
Yeah. It tells me that the tiger George Bush is riding is getting hungrier by the minute. No way I'm calling the President a bastard, but if he somehow manages to dismount -- and survive -- at the very least, he ought to get a kick in the pants.
Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer, and a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2005 Sheila Samples
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