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How Far the Apple Fell From the Tree

From George 1 to George 2

by WILLIAM A. COOK

(Dear Jeffrey,

I came upon this letter while searching through my junk mail file. I have no idea how it got there unless the FBI or CIA were combing files under the Patriot Act and this got misplaced. But it is a curious piece, both because it comes from George the First and because it gives an unusual insight into his revisionist study of world events since he left office. I immediately thought of you and your readers at Counterpunch since I know they would be delighted to learn of George I’s conversion to liberal thinking.

Peace, WILLIAM A. COOK)

Dear Son,

It’s time we had a talk. I’m sitting here at breakfast in the gazebo at Kennibunkport, the sun greeting me as it glides up over the gilded, distant sea, a warm and so sweet breeze coming through the screens on this unusually mild spring day in Maine (notice how eloquent I’ve gotten in retirement!); you remember days like this when you escaped from the icky, sand-blown lawns of our Texas compound when you were a kid? I never did understand why you liked that place, although I must admit, you were able to meld your ineptness with the English language with the rowdies you trucked around with down there. Unfortunately, you also adopted their brand of "cowboy mentality," a rather New England way of saying "pig headed," "close minded," or "obstinate." Yes, George, this is a "father to son" talk of the kind I tried to hold with you from the time you entered your teens; I know they were few and far between because I was gone so much of the time doing government work, something you must now understand, although, again, I am amazed at how much vacation time you take. Who’s minding the store may I ask? I hope it isn’t Cheney and Rumsfeld; you can’t leave them alone, George; they have nothing better to do in life than to amass fortunes and crucify others.

This letter follows two recent events that captured the headlines, your third (!) press conference in prime time in three years and your appearance with Ariel Sharon before the cameras handing him the knife he used to stab you in the back! Do I sound angry, George? I am, I’m furious. I knew that I should have had these "father to son" talks before, and many of them, but I didn’t and nothing has made that more obvious than these two events. Let me put it simply: you, George, like it or not, are head of this nation, let’s call it a family because that’s what we’re supposed to be, so you are head of the family. As such you must set an example for the people, how they should act and behave toward each other, something like the expectation thrust on ballplayers like Sammy Solsa or Bond or that BB player who was traded because he did nothing but curse at fans and fight with other players; I don’t remember his name but I’m sure you do. You get my point.

So what got me steamed? Let me tell you. You were asked a question at the press conference, a typical question asked of any person applying for a management job, "Can you describe any mistakes you’ve made and what you’d do differently if you had the opportunity?" What did you do? You stammered and fuddled around as though you’d been asked to clear up Einstein’s theory of relativity or as though you’d never been interviewed for a job (come to think of it, that might have been the problem!), and you could not come up with any mistakes nor could you find any reason to apologize to the American people for the consequences of 9/11. Well, Junior, let me line up the mistakes for you so you can ask yourself if you have reason to apologize to the American people.

What insanity made you capitulate to that ogre, Sharon? Every time he comes here you melt, and Christ, Son, you’re bigger than he is, at least you’re taller and in better shape. What’s he do, write your letters for you? Look what you’ve done! (1) Before the Israelis have a chance to vote on the "internment" plan Sharon concocted for the Palestinians, you absconded with their right and made the decision for them. (2) You unilaterally decided that you’d discard international law by determining by yourself what national borders will comprise the state of Israel and the future state of Palestine without consultation with the UN or the parties involved. (3) You broke the only multi-national agreement left, the "Road Map" (having discarded all the cooperative agreements I pulled together) that included Russia and Europe, by letting Sharon yoke the West Bank settlements into the state of Israel contrary to Resolution 242 of the UNSC and the vote of the UNGA at the creation of the Israeli state. And, Son, you did this without consulting Sergei Lavrov or Javier Solana or Kofi Annan or probably, for God’s sake, Colin Powell. Worse than that, you didn’t even talk to anyone in Palestine! When did you become dictator of the world! Indeed, when did the "Road map" become "your vision"; did you forget that others contributed to its design? (4) You demand that the Palestinians stop terrorism but say nothing to Sharon about murdering Sheik Yassin or walling in the Palestinians, the two grossest terrorist acts yet perpetrated by Israel, both guaranteed to enrage the Arab world and ensure terrorist acts against America for decades to come. (5) Now that you are caught in the quicksand of Iraq, you should know that there is a difference between an indigenous population fighting for its country against an occupier and a terrorist who wants only to inflict harm against a perceived enemy for perceived indignities, and that realization should make you rethink your support of Sharon because he has turned the population attempting to throw off the occupying IDF into the same category as the terrorist thus justifying everything he does with your blessing. Wake up, George, you’re being used! (6) You accept without question the right of a Jewish State to exist but will not accept an Islamic State in Iraq, a point not lost on the Arab world. (7) You state that negotiations between Israel and Palestine will happen in "accordance with Resolutions 242 and 338" but you have closed the door on that possibility by stating in the same paragraph that it is "unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949". George, only Sharon could have written that sentence. (8) You proclaim for all the world to hear that you are doing God’s work. Where did you meet Him, George, at the ranch? Only a Texas mind could conjure up such a thought. You’ve got to get back to New England, Son, where we’ve put Puritanism behind us after the Salem witch trials in 1692. (9) Now, George, I’m going to close this list with just one more item (though I could, in fact, continue if my eggs were not getting cold), the one where you have determined that international law that governs right of return does not apply for the Palestinians. And you believe that you make it so by saying it! My God, George, where is your head? As your father, I’ve got to intervene.

Now I can’t focus on all those items above, but I can concentrate on a couple.
I’m going to begin with Sharon; he is "ground zero," not New York’s Trade Center and not even Iraq, although you’ve done mightily to make it so. If you’d spend some time reading, you’d understand that Osama, the people of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Asia, the EU countries, Canada, Australia, North Africa, Goddam it, George, everyone in the world, sees Sharon and his government to be the cause of terrorism. His incarceration of the indigenous population, his slaughter of 545 Palestinian children since he mocked the al-Aqsa Mosque in 2000 (and, George, 266 of these children had not reached their 14th birthday), thus bringing on the plague of suicide bombers, his theft of their land ­ all with your support and encouragement ­ outrages the Arab world. Why can’t you see that? Have you swallowed the insanity of the Neo-cons that surround you? They are dead men who never had real experience struggling in life beyond sitting entranced by other dead men, Leo Strauss and Bernard Lewis.

They tried to control me, Son, and I had to fight them off, especially Cheney and Rumsfeld. They wanted me to take out Saddam. But I was the only one who had real experience; they did what you did, they chickened out. This is what I told them: "Trying to eliminate Saddam would have incurred incalculable human and political costs." Notice that word, Son, "human," that’s one the Neo-Cons never use. "Apprehending him was probably impossible. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq." I should underline that sentence, shouldn’t I? Even you, George, can understand that Dad was right. "There was no viable exit strategy we could see, violating another of our principles." Perhaps I should have noted that it would also have violated international law. Well, I guess I did do that in a later sentence. "Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish." But you have no use for international agreements, do you? Certainly, Cheney and Rumsfeld don’t, and they are more than likely telling you what to do. Here’s the final sentence that you should have paid attention to, Junior: "Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land." How’s that for prophecy, Son. No God had to tell me that.

Now let’s get to that dismissal of "Right of Return." Have you been so bamboozled by that Cabal that you think you can simply change international law by making a proclamation? The EU has already defied you! These are grown men, George, experienced men. They won’t accept the dictates of would be "men behind the throne" like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Libby, the whole cabal that clusters behind your butt groveling to get to the top hitched to someone else because real people can see right through them. Grab hold, Son. The right of return is a blessed right even if you don’t have a religion. But go back to your Bible. Remember the Prodigal Son? He took off, abandoned his birth right for heaven’s sake. But he returned and his father received him with open arms. Isn’t there something in that story that tells you people have a right to return to their home?

The Palestinians were forced from their homes and villages in 1947 and ’48; Benny Morris has confirmed that fact, George, and he’s an Israeli Historian. They’ve been living in slums ever since, their homes and land taken from them, even bulldozed down for heaven’s sake, whole villages disappeared ­ Mahlul, Jibta, Huneifis, Tal al-Shuman ­ and you take it on yourself to tell them, "too bad, you lost!" Are you out of your mind? Listen to the voices no one hears, the voices of children born in refugee camps in foreign lands, strangers there, homeless. "Their dream is of a Palestine that was their father’s home, that they heard about, and maybe one day they’ll go and visit the land he spoke about, all the years they were growing up" (Saida Nusseibeh). Doesn’t that make your hair curl, Son? (Which, by the way, I notice you’ve let grow in like all guys in your age group that have reached a mid-life crisis. What’s with this?).

One final item, George, one that a father must raise and one that perhaps only I can raise: God has not given you a mission, Son; the only missions God has ever given ­ to Urban II, Innocent III, Martin Luther, St Francis, Hal Lindsey, Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts, or any of the thousands of others who heard from Him ­ were given to delusional men needing an excuse for warped behavior! God gave no command that you must bring His gift to all humankind. Only one thing is more certain than knowing God may not exist and that is knowing what He knows. Why, George, would God want to destroy 15,000 innocent people in Afghanistan and Iraq to revenge 3000 killed in the Twin Towers and Pentagon? Why would He have you kill thousands of others defending their country and let thousands of them and thousands of our soldiers be maimed for life? Why would He kill and maim His creatures? What kind of a God do you believe in?

Wouldn’t He want all of His creatures to share the glory of this morning, as I am here in Kennibunkport, and share the bounty of the earth He provided for all? Isn’t that what your church teaches you, at least if you listen to the words of Jesus and not to the minister? "Clothe the naked, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless."And isn’t that what the G-d of the Old Testament (after He got over destroying Canaanites and Hittites, et al) demanded of His people, share your wealth with all less fortunate? And isn’t that what Mohammad said God demanded as well ­ give of your wealth to those who have nothing? Can’t you see that the Cabal uses your religious beliefs to gain their ends? Didn’t they tell you that Philip Zelikow, the guy on your transition team and now executive director of the September 11 Commission, would you believe (conflict of interest comes to mind, George; you might reflect on who recommended him for that post) stated it plainly enough: Saddam was no threat to America, "I’ll tell you what the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 ­ it’s the threat against Israel. And this is the threat that dares not speak its name because … the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically because it’s not a popular sell." In short, Son, you’ve been used and so have the American people. The only way you can stop the terrorism is to stop your support of Sharon!

This has been a long talk, Son, and while you may not be happy about it, I am. Age brings wisdom as it should bring respect. Consider what I’ve said. Don’t get huffy the way you used to at Yale. You’re no longer a cheerleader, Son, you’re a head of state; pompously parading around doesn’t cut it anymore. You must read and reflect, weigh options with care in full deliberations with all parties, not for special interests only, but for the good of all; then, having decided on a course of action beneficial to all, act. But first, Son, you must be willing to admit that you have made mistakes. Growth, strength and wisdom come to those who recognize their talents, know their weaknesses and limitations and willingly and humbly admit their failures even as they move to correct them. You should have answered that question, Son. Never be afraid to admit mistakes and never fail to apologize for them. That’s the sign of a man.

William Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His new book, Psalms for the 21st Century, was just published by Mellen Press. He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU