Turkey Potemkin


President Bush snuck in and out of Iraq under cover of night on Thanksgiving to have his picture taken with a turkey and some soldiers. If anything else was accomplished by the quick round-trip, the White House did not divulge it.

Cable television news, in case you missed it, went completely gaga. Interviewees gushed about the president’s "sacrifice." Even his Democratic would-be opponents saluted the "daring move" and the "great politics" of it all.

Yet, as my friend Jeffrey St. Clair observed after carving an exemplary turkey of his own, if the president really wanted to make a daring move he could have gone to stand in the main square in Tikrit at high noon and told the Iraqis to "Bring it on!"

Air Force One traveled in complete darkness, with no lights visible onboard or off. By coincidence, tonight while driving home from dinner I passed one or two SUVs also running without lights. I blinked my headlamps to call the error to their attention, for safety’s sake, but neither driver responded. Perhaps they too were on secret missions.

One can only reflect that before Bush invaded Baghdad he had never seen it, and that now, having both invaded it and visited it, he still has not seen it. He was there to be seen, not to see, to read a stiff, carefully scripted speech and say nothing spontaneous till he got off the podium and into the chit-chat. As far as we know, he met with no Iraqis beyond a few members of his U.S.-picked "governing council." Air Force One had wheels up before either harm or new information could penetrate his security.

If Saddam Hussein has met with any supporters in Iraq lately, it was surely under much the same scenario: arriving under cover of night, emerging from behind a curtain, etc etc.

The same soldiers who were allowed to tell the hand-picked media how much they appreciated the president’s gesture have been forbidden for months now to tell reporters how they really feel about being in Iraq. It is perfectly all right for them to praise the commander-in-chief but not to criticize him.

Did anyone in the White House media pool ask the assembled soldiers how they felt about Richard Perle’s recent admission that the president’s invasion of Iraq was illegal? Probably not, but you would like to think that at least one of them did SOME reporting on the long trip, as opposed to merely eating cranberry sauce and providing "coverage."

His descent into Baghdad, like a thief in the night, served to remind the world that, war zones aside, George W. Bush cannot travel openly anywhere, so deeply are the man and his policies loathed. He dared to enter the Baghdad Airport in secrecy, unannounced, but he dared not address the House of Commons on his recent trip to Great Britain for fear of being hooted out of England. Rare indeed are his truly public appearances, other than before a hand-picked audience of guaranteed reliable supporters, anywhere in the United States, or anywhere on earth, really.

It is far more than a question of security. In these days of snipers and suicide bombers no one expects him to "work the rope." But the president’s security arrangements serve quite as much to shield him from hostile opinion as from hostile fire. By his own admission, he does not even read the news.

Were he to appear at any large public event, at any imaginable location, he would risk confronting not only a sea of opposition but an opportunity to appreciate what the late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu (the Great Conducator) may have felt at his final outdoor appearance in Bucharest.

Bush has now landed on an aircraft carrier in a jump suit and flown all the way to Iraq to stage photo-ops. This is Evel Knievel politics, a dangerous game of "top this!" Extrapolating the trend, to what "bold and daring" lengths can he be expected to go, should next year’s election odds get really tight? Shoot himself across the Potomac out of a cannon? Parachute into Kabul? Perhaps he might wish to join Tony Blair in a glass box suspended over the Thames, in the style of magician David Blaine.

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, just released a scorching new CD, Way Down Here.

He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com

Visit his website at http://www.rebelangel.com

Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Ron Jacobs
The Murderer as American Hero
Alex Nunns
“A Movement Looking for a Home”: the Meaning of Jeremy Corbyn
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Xanthe Hall
Nuclear Madness: NATO’s WMD ‘Sharing’ Must End
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Uri Avnery
Abbas: the Leader Without Glory
Halima Hatimy
#BlackLivesMatter: Black Liberation or Black Liberal Distraction?
Michael Brenner
Kissinger Revisited
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Jason Cone
Even Wars Have Rules: a Fact Sheet on the Bombing of Kunduz Hospital
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Marc Norton
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
David Rosen
If Donald Dump Was President
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Ronald Bleier
Am I Drinking Enough Water? Sneezing’s A Clue
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
David Yearsley
Papal Pop and Circumstance
Christopher Washburn
Skeptik’s Lexicon