It was an appropriate setting for two of the world’s most loathsome individuals: a medieval Bratislava castle overlooking the Danube River. "President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin sought common ground Thursday on keeping conventional and nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists," reports ABC News.
ABC provides no definition of terrorist. Of course for Bush and Putin the word is reserved for Chechens and Iranians. Never mind that the United States is the only nation to have actually ever nuked anybody — and continues to use non-mushroom cloud nuclear warfare in Iraq (depleted uranium) — and the Russians as well have a long and terrible history of using "conventional" weapons against millions of people, including more than a few of their own.
It is said Dubya sincerely enjoys the company of "Puty Put," as Bush calls the Russian leader and former KGB goon who learned a few licks in a stay-over in East Germany at the beginning of his career, more than likely picking up a few tricks from Stasi, the secret police network that used Orwell’s 1984 as a playbook.
Puty Put and Dubya certainly have a lot in common. For instance, Putin’s control of the media in Russia ensured his "re-election" last year, a feat repeated by Bush a few months later as the corporate media in the United States more or less gave him a blank check — ignoring the lies and fabrications used by the Bushcons to invade Iraq while grinding John Kerry down with Swift boats and his embarrassing antiwar past — and then refusing to air serious accusations of voter fraud and electoral malfeasance. Kerry, as a Skull and Bones elitist and cheerleader for Bush’s invasion and occupation, of course, deserved to be worn down. But that is another story.
Corporate media news coverage of the Bush-Putin buzz session predictably came down hard on Puty Put. "The possession of the shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles in the hands of criminals or terrorists pose a threat to both passenger and military aviation, a White House statement said. The Soviet Union and now Russia have widely sold shoulder-fired missiles to customers around the world, including a more potent version that can’t be diverted by decoys," reports ABC News.
No mention here of the Stinger missiles Reagan bestowed upon CIA-trained "terrorists" or "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan (the terms "terrorist" and "freedom fighter" are interchangeable, depending on who is doing the talking). Reagan gave approximately 1,000 of these advanced missiles to the medieval Mujahedeen. It is reported that the CIA has since attempted to buy back Stinger missiles now that the United States is no longer interested in shooting down Soviet helicopters but the result, to say the least, has been mixed. In fact, so loose was the Pentagon in its Stinger giveaway, according to the GAO, it transferred 8,331 Stingers to foreign countries from 1982 to 2004. "The current international export control system is insufficient to prevent the proliferation of shoulder-fired rockets designed to take down aircraft of all kinds, including civilian airliners," Rep. Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee in 2004, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
If I can find this information using a simple Google search, no doubt the journalists at ABC News would be able to do likewise. Of course, they have no reason to do this since the idea here is to make it appear Puty Put and the Russians are handing out missiles like lollipops to so-called rogue states, in other words states Bush and Crew want to shock and awe into neoliberal submission.
ABC News does not need to delve into the recent past to uncover hypocrisy on the part of the United States in regard to handing out missiles. It need look no further than NicaNet and Nicaragua’s El Nuevo Diario newspaper. "One of the men convicted of selling a SAM-7 surface-to-air missile in Nicaragua, Jorge Ivan Pineda, said he was paid $1,000 by the CIA to buy the weapon and that the whole thing was planned at a meeting in the US embassy in the presence of the US ambassador Barbara Moore on Dec. 23 2004," explains the Nicaragua Network website. It appears this SAM-7 missile is one of a hundred or so given to the terrorist organization — or maybe a freedom fighter organization, again depending on who is doing the talking — the Contras by the Reagan administration. "These weapons have never been recovered and apparently are still in the possession of ex-contra fighters in the northern mountains of Nicaragua."
"Before his meeting with Putin, Bush spoke to thousands of citizens huddled against a wet snow. He thanked Slovaks for their deployment of non-combat troops to Iraq and celebrated the example their 1989 triumph over communism provides," ABC reports, moving on after accusing Russia of holding shoulder-fired missile bake sales. "For the Iraqi people, this is their 1989 and they will always remember who stood with them in their quest for freedom," said Bush.
Indeed a touching moment, especially for a guy who told Yoshi Tsurumi, his professor at Harvard Business School, that the little people pretty much deserve what they get, especially when it is dished out by the ruling elite. Tsurumi told Air America radio last year that "lies came very easily" to Bush. "Intellectually very shallow. But more importantly immature, but lacking the sense of responsibility, compassion," added the professor. Bush did not lie precisely to the little Slovaks gathered in the snow, he simply rewrote history or glossed over a big chunk of it anyway.
1989 is an interesting year. In 1989, the Iraqi people had what the people of the United States might call universal health care, a public medical system that was the envy of the Arab world. Iraq also had low infant mortality, increasing literacy rates, and other social benefits, thanks to the socialist ideals of the Ba’athists. Of course, they had to put up with Saddam’s brutal police state, a political nightmare many Iraqis now look back at with fond nostalgia as they endure polluted water, no electricity, bombed hospitals, a destroyed sewage system, rampant street violence, suicide bombings, and last but not least foreign soldiers (no, not al-Qaeda) kicking in their doors at three in the morning and dragging their men folk off to disappear into the murky depths of Bush’s torture and rape gulag. Iraq now has a higher poverty rate than Haiti.
Is it "freedom" the Iraqis will remember or the million or so of their fellow citizens slaughtered by Dubya’s daddy and Bubba Clinton? How many Iraqis agree with Madeline Albright, who so arrogantly and criminally proclaimed that 500,000 dead Iraqi children — killed mostly by starvation, malnutrition, and entirely preventable disease under sanctions — was a price worth paying? How many of them are now "terrorists" and "dead-enders" blowing up naive American twenty-somethings in inadequately armored vehicles as they tool around al-Anbar province looking for the mythical Abu Musab al-Zarqawi? Even the Pentagon admits more than 200,000 Iraqis are actively involved in the resistance.
"Also on the agenda was the campaign to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions," ABC News continues. "The subject has been a prime topic throughout Bush’s European trip, and aides have left open the possibility that Bush would consider the European-led effort to offer incentives to persuade Iran not to pursue nuclear weapons."
Incentives? Is it possible Bush will not impose murderous sanctions on Iran and hold off for a while on shock and awing the place into Stone Age rubble? I wouldn’t count on it — and I’m sure the Iranians are not counting on it either and that’s why they are getting up to speed on so-called "asymmetrical warfare," in other words guerilla warfare, Shia style. For an example of how this works, consider Lebanon’s Hezbollah, a rag-tag assemblage of Shi’ites who drove the Israelis out of southern Lebanon. Bombing the hell out of Iran will probably turn out to be the stupidest thing Bush ever did, far more stupid than the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
Considering the killing fields of Iraq — and Vietnam, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Indonesia, East Timor, the Philippines, directly or through proxy, etc., on and on over the last hundred or so years — who can rightly blame the Iranians for burning the midnight oil and working feverishly to develop a few nukes of their own, especially with the Israelis, secretly harboring a passel of their own nukes, a missile’s throw away to the west? Think North Korea. Dubya and Crew are seriously reluctant to go after the North Koreans precisely because they may have nukes and repeatedly make no bones about the fact they will use them if Bush messes with them. It is easier — and less risky — to kill Iraqis and Iranians, especially in the former case after more than a decade of debilitating and siege-like sanctions.
Puty Put is a near match for Bush and that’s why they like each other. Put’s military has spent a long time ravaging Chechnya, consistently engaging in violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, butchering and disappearing civilians, going all out with extrajudicial executions and torture. "According to reports, Russian forces have arbitrarily detained, tortured or killed thousands of civilians," reports Amnesty International. "Most people who are detained by Russian forces are picked up during identity checks on civilian convoys traveling from Chechnya to Ingushetia or during military raids (so-called zachistki or "clean-up" raids) on populated areas. These raids are accompanied by widespread abuses against the civilian population. Civilians, including women and children, have reportedly been abducted, subjected to rape and other forms of torture, and killed." Like Bush and his cronies, Puty Put considers the slaughter of innocent men, women, and children in Chechnya a war against terrorism.
Dubya and Puty Put are peas in a pod and certainly "share common ground," as ABC News describes it. Indeed they not only shared a medieval castle for a few hours but also share a blood-stained medieval mindset, as epitomized not only by Byzantine-like wars and crusades complete with the modern equivalent of plunder and foraging, but also a system or torture and brutality that would prompt Tomas de Torquemada, the inquisitor general of Castile and Aragon, to take copious notes.
KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/ . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org