Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Springtime for "Georgie" Bush

It was once said that history is a pack tricks (or lies) played on the dead. George Bush was out today talking about history to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, who were cheering him on, as they cheered on politicians and presidents all through the Vietnam War who kept on talking about any settlement beyond "victory" as "appeasement" "surrender" a return to the "Munich Agreement" and eventual "Communist takeovers" from Saigon to San Francisco.

But Bush was really rolling here. He threw in the Korean War and mentioned that I.F. Stone had written a book blaming the South Koreans for the War. I would bet a fortune that George never read that book (which is still a very useful work) or even heard of I.F. Stone (Bush wouldn't be able to get him right on a multiple choice
identification test) but that some neo-con speech writer who in the twilight zone of the American right regards I.F. Stone as a Soviet spy put that in.

Bush kept on going, using what the old cold war liberal journalist, Richard Rovere, author of a classic albeit anti-Communist study of Joe McCarthy called the "multiple untruth," that is, McCarthy's variation on the "big lie," hitting them with one lie after another, much like commercial advertising, so that it become hard to follow him logically and answer him with evidence.

The U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam caused millions of deaths, Bush said. The U.S. escalation of the war in Vietnam in 1965 after it created a decade before South Vietnam saw more bombs dropped on Vietnam than in WWII and the Korean War combined and caused millions of deaths. The withdrawal from Vietnam brought the Khmer Rouge and its mass murder to power, Bush said The overthrow of Sihanouk's neutralist government in 1970 by Nixon and Kissinger as part of their Vietnam War strategy led to five years of bombing and devastation which brought the Khymer Rouge to power followed by three years of mass killing by the Khmer Rouge, which only ended when Vietnam intervened in 1978. Subsequently, Khmer Rouge forces received indirect U.S. aid when the Reagan administration supported anti-Vietnamese Cambodian forces. If Bush was interested in reading, he might look at the British writer William Shawcross classic account of these events, Sideshow (even though Shawcross supported Tony Blair and the Iraq War I doubt that Bush's speech writers would ever cite his work on these questions).

Then Bush spoke of the "boat people," the repression carried out against those who had collaborated with and profited from the U.S. created South Vietnamese state. Actually, the propaganda of the Johnson and Nixon administration was through the escalation that if the U.S. would withdraw there would be mass killing. Outside of Cambodia, the end of the war meant the end of the mass killing as the whole civilized world knows, but since the old propaganda was that there was mass killing, why not say it again to an audience which would believe it as they would believe anything from anyone telling them that the solution to all problems is military.

Bush continued his "excellent adventure" by "remembering" that many doubted that the U.S. could bring democracy to Japan in its occupation. No mention that the Japanese had an advanced labor force to begin with an no natural resources in which the occupiers were interested, and were then able to profit from the cold war policies that Bush was hailing by not spending the money for the military and building up their automobile consumer electronics, and other industries.

If Bush had said that if the U.S. had come in with private contractors like Halliburton, given large numbers of high paying jobs to Americans and Europeans while the Japanese military were unemployed, and turned reconstruction projects into unfinished failures at best, confidence scams at worst, making Japan today far less of a competitor with the U.S. industry, not to mention a major bond holder of the U.S. debt, he might have made a little sense, but that would be outside of his script and above his audience, who will "buy American" to the last Toyota.

What are the Veterans of Foreign Wars cheering about when the listen to such specious nonsense. More and more foreign wars as a way to prevent wars in the future. Do they really want the soldiers to today to be led by such adventurers and fools.

I have students who are in the military today. They tell me how the GI Bill which was the last piece of New Deal social legislation enacted at the end of WWII has been undermined in its education and health benefits. They tell of of all the hidden clauses which make them pay out of pocket for education and health care and other things and how they support legislation to reform the GI Bill and give them those things. But Bush wasn't talking about any of that and the Veterans, whose job should be to fight for programs like that, weren't raising those questions.

The U.S. has a military budget of 460 billion dollars and most of that goes to the industrial part of the military industrial complex, while the soldier, like the worker, is flattered a little by his or her bosses and the politicians but in practice, in terms of the benefits he gets and the body armor and other essentials necessary to protect his or her life is treated with contempt. These are the issues that soldiers and veterans that I know are raising, and these are the issues that Bush should be addressing when he appears before a veterans group. The people would should really be cheering Bush are the Contractors of Foreign Wars.

Of course, no one mentioned that Bush didn't serve in the Vietnam War, while he was spewing "multiple untruths" about to support the war and occupation which he launched against Iraq. But he obviously doesn't
feel any compunction to tell anything that is true about himself. At least he didn't say that he stood the course in Vietnam in the Texas Air National Guard (and in Alabama) while Senator John Kerry, even with his military decorations, "cut and ran" by becoming z leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. But he may in the future.

It was once said that it is relatively easy to die for your country, but really hard to live for it. It has also been noted by civilized people for Milena that it is easy to start and get into wars and hard to end and get out of wars. I.F. Stone, whom I had the pleasure and privilege of interviewing thirty eight years ago when I was working on my doctoral dissertation understood that. Bush his party and his supporters cannot understand that on their best day.

--Norman Markowitz

No comments: