Nine days following the terror attacks of 9-11, President George Bush gave an address to a joint session of Congress and the American people that was widely lauded in the corporate media. Bush said the US had been “called to defend freedom … [against] a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda.” Two-and-a-half years later when deeds are compared to rhetoric, the inescapable conclusion is that Bush’s mission to defend freedom was a cruel hoax.
Bush directed his speech not only at Americans but also to “Muslims throughout the world.” He declared a respect for the Muslim faith.
The terrorists, identified by US intelligence as being al Qaeda, were Muslims. Bush spoke for the American people. “Americans are asking: why do they hate us?” Bush answered, “They hate what we see right here in this chamber -- a democratically elected government.” Bush was the candidate on the losing end of the vote and yet the Supreme Court selected him along partisan lines. This was hardly a victory for democracy. Investigative reporter Greg Palast exposed the chicanery behind a purge of Black voters in Florida that helped seal the Bush victory. (1)
Bush elaborated further on the enemy’s hate: “They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”
Moreover, continued Bush, “They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.” It is exceedingly hypocritical for a selected president to denounce terrorist leaders as “self-appointed” and then criticize people for wanting to overthrow their own self-appointed leaders. Egypt with the authoritarian Hosni Mubarak at the helm, Jordan with its primogeniture-designated monarch Abdullah, and the Saudi monarchs are decidedly no friends of democracy and yet these are the closest friends of democracy-espousing Washington. Washington’s support bears directly on the continuation of these Middle Eastern dictatorships.
Bush exclaimed, “They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East.” This is obviously a Bushism. It is the equivalent of declaiming that the Indigenous want to drive Canada and the US out of North America. A country is a name given to a landmass; why would anyone want to drive a landmass away? Now if Bush is declaiming that “they” want to drive the people of Israel out of the Middle East then he has got his history backward. Historically the Jews had lived relatively peacefully as a tiny minority in Palestine and other Arab lands. It is Zionists, and this includes the implicit support of Jews who migrated to Israel from outside, who engineered the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. It is the Palestinians who have been driven out and live as refugees outside their land. It is the Zionists, with staunch support form the US, who perpetuate an ethnic cleansing and slow-motion genocide.
Yet with all the past and current historical facts against the Zionists, even acknowledged by Zionist historians, Bush stated, “They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa.” It is the height of impartiality to criticize one side and stand mute about identical crimes committed by the other side. Zionists are masters at using terrorism to frighten Jews to Israel to serve Zionist ends.” (2)
Bush attacks the adherence of the enemy to its faith: “We are not deceived by their pretenses to piety.” Neither are skeptical Christians deceived by Bush’s pious pretences, for Jesus taught the faithful, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” In other words, a self-proclaiming Christian reveals himself by deeds rather than words. Added Jesus, “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” The nature of the fruit of killing, rape, torture, and destruction wreaked upon Iraqis is unmistakable.
Bush declared, “They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions -- by abandoning every value except the will to power -- they follow in the path of fascism, and Nazism, and totalitarianism.” It sounds like Bush was talking about the US. In Bush’s current mission he has sacrificed over 15,000 civilian lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some sources put the numbers tens-of-thousands higher. (3) Many American lives have also been sacrificed in Bush’s mission bathed in blood. Bush’s bloodlust was illustrated by comments attributed to him after the mutilation of four US mercenaries in Fallujah: “I want heads to roll.” (4)
“And they will follow that path all the way, to where it ends: in history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies.” From a president, patently not lacking in gall, who talked mendaciously about uranium cake, aluminum tubes, mobile biochemical labs, and who claimed that he knew Iraq had weapons-of-mass-destruction and that he knew where they were, one can only assume that he knows also where history’s unmarked grave of lies is.
Bush fulminated, “Americans are asking: How will we fight and win this war? We will direct every resource at our command -- every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war -- to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network.”
Did he mean he would use the intelligence of tools? Bush diplomacy consisted of treaty breaking, the alienation of “Old Europe,” and the dismissal of the UN as “irrelevant.” Law enforcement meant the abrogation of the Geneva Conventions, killing, rape, looting, imprisonment with impunity, imprisonment of the innocent, imprisonment of innocent family members to induce the surrender of another family member, torture, and the lost battle for hearts and minds.
“Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success.” There is success in battles but the war is lost nevertheless.
“And what is at stake is not just America’s freedom. This is the world’s fight.” Notable following 9-11 is how Bush’s government apparently played into terrorist hands when he curbed the freedoms enjoyed by American citizens through the Patriot Act. Many other freedom-loving western governments followed suit in curtailing the freedom of their citizens from Australia to Britain to Canada. (5)
“The civilized world is rallying to America’s side.” This must be the mythical civilized world that Gandhi thought was a good idea. But it looks like much of the willing coalition is abandoning the US imperialistic venture. Spain said goodbye, Norway, Honduras, and others are also on the way out.
“Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment.” One might wonder who is the “we” Bush speaks of. The potential greatness of the US has been thwarted by an angry vengeance. The powerful American nation had the opportunity to contemplate why a weaker foe would lash out at it and to react appropriately. The man at the top could only seize upon the pathetic excuse of a hatred of western freedom. Former President Eisenhower had already identified “the campaign of hatred” the Arab people have against the US, a campaign reaped by Eisenhower geo-political strategy in the Middle East. As historian Salim Yaqub noted, following the Suez Crisis the “United States had no intention of repudiating its alliance with Britain and France or its support for Israel’s existence and security -- stubborn realities that prevented the United States from gaining the wholehearted support of Arab public opinion.” (6)
“Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war,” declared Bush, “and we know that God is not neutral between them.”
Amen to that.
is a writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. He can be reached at:
(1) Greg Palast, “Florida’s ‘Disappeared Voters’: Disfranchised by the GOP,” Nation, 5 February 2001
(3) Marc Herold, “Daily Casualty Count of Afghan Civilians Killed by U.S. Bombing” A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States’ Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Accounting; Iraq Body Count; Shaista Aziz, “War killed 55,000 Iraqi civilians,” Al Jazeera, 11 November 2003
(4) Matthew Gutman, “Analysis: Will rolling heads crush rebellion, or Iraq itself?” Jerusalem Post, 11 April 2004
(5) Dale Mills, “New ‘anti-terrorism’ laws,” Indy Media, 30 April 2004; Lorna Claire Dounaeva, “The UK’s Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill: Has History Taught Us Nothing?” Politix Group; Rocco Galati, “How Should Canada Respond to Terrorism and War,” Science for Peace Forum and Teach-In, 9 December 2001
(6) Salim Yaqub, Introduction to Containing Arab Nationalism: The Eisenhower Doctrine and the Middle East (University of North Carolina Press, 2003)
Other Recent Articles by Kim Petersen
Fairy Tale of Liberation