A veteran journalist friend of mine recently remarked that, in many ways, George W. Bush’s lust for war reminded him of Napoleon Bonaparte. The French emperor dreamt of a world under his domination. Although many of Bush’s domestic policies closely resemble those of Adolf Hitler, the comparison of Bush to Napoleon has merit. Napoleon wanted to restore the Holy Roman Empire of Charlemagne. In his first military incursions into the Middle East, Napoleon believed he was another Alexander the Great.
Bush obviously wants to create some sort of neo-Crusader American empire in the Middle East and beyond. Bush’s constant linking of his war policies to God indicates that he possesses the same sort of megalomania as Napoleon.
Napoleon wrecked the peace brought about by the Treaty of Amiens of 1802 and plunged the world back into war. Bush has trashed international treaties by the truckload and has returned the world to a nascent Cold War–and like the Soviet Union during the prior Cold War the United States is now considered the primary threat to world peace by governments and peoples alike.
The telltale signs of empire creation begins with perception management. Napoleon accomplished this by convincing the French masses that he was re-creating the glory of France after years of revolution and civil war. No amount of French blood was too much to pay and the French were happy to support Napoleon’s numerous wars.
The American public is now convinced that Bush achieved a tremendous victory over Saddam Hussein. They are willing to disregard all the reasons Bush used to invade Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction have been discovered in Iraq and a number of people in America and abroad now believe if such weapons are found, they would have been planted in Iraq by the United States.
Americans are also being told by the Bush-controlled corporate media that the residents of Baghdad and Basra were jubilant that the Americans had arrived. Never mind the fact that both cities had been under constant bombardment for weeks and that water and electricity had been cut off. After that kind of ordeal, anyone would welcome a lull in bombing and restoration of basic services. It does not mean Iraqis necessarily welcome an invading force. Independent journalists, not embedded by Pentagon handlers, report that a number of Iraqis have expressed fears that their country will come under the control of the Israelis. In addition, a CIA report states that most Iraqis abhor Ahmed Chalabi, America’s designated leader for post-Saddam Iraq.
Iraqis know Chalabi as a crook. He defrauded depositors out of $300 million when his Petra Bank in Jordan collapsed in the late 1980s. In 1992, after Chalabi escaped Jordan, reportedly with the help of then-Crown Prince Hassan, the brother of King Hussein, a Jordanian court found Chalabi guilty of fraud and sentenced him to 22 years at hard labor. Jordan has an Interpol red notice out for Chalabi’s arrest. But Chalabi will not face a Jordanian jail cell. Instead, his patrons, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, Jay Garner, Scooter Libby, Michael Ledeen, and James Woolsey are pushing him as the new prime minister of Iraq. And for good measure, Chalabi’s old friend, Hassan of Jordan, is being mentioned as the person to head up a restored Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad.
But none of this is being mentioned by the American media, which is under the tight control of Bush political operatives and right-wing policy launderers like the American Enterprise Institute (home of Lynne Cheney who reportedly sits on a fellowship grant provided to the think tank from Israeli sources) and the Heritage Foundation.
With Fox News and Clear Communications and their sordid commentators spouting forth the most jingoistic propaganda billed as news, the American people are not being told the truth about Iraq. The fact that the U.S. military purposefully targeted Al Jazeera offices near the Mansour Hotel and Abu Dhabi TV and Reuters offices at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad that were previously declared by the US Central Command as no-fire zones is being widely reported around the world but not in the United States. CNN’s veteran journalist Christiane Amanpour rejected the observation by her colleague, Wolf Blitzer, that war is a dangerous business (he was parroting Pentagon press spokeswoman Torie Clarke). Amanpour, who insisted that all the journalists knew more about the Baghdad war zone than government press officers, should have reminded CNN’s audience that Blitzer is far from a seasoned unbiased war correspondent he claims to be. The fact that Blitzer was once the Washington correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, a leading advocate of the war on Iraq, should be known by every CNN viewer. However, CNN viewers can probably be excused for not knowing Blitzer’s background — a number of journalists are not even aware of his ingrained bias on the Middle East.
The whole world is talking about the virtual news blackout imposed by the Bush administration on the United States. The BBC, France 2, CBC, Deutsche Welle, and TV Espana are all reporting that what Americans are being fed by their media is pure propaganda. European TV is carrying images of hundreds of dead Iraqi civilians while U.S. television concentrates on American military doctors tending to “sick” (not wounded) Iraqi children and Iraqis pulling down statues of Saddam and defacing his portraits.
American cable news trollops continue to lament the non-combat deaths of NBC’s David Bloom and The Atlantic Monthly’s Michael Kelly but ignore the killing of Al Jazeera’s Tariq Ayoub from a hail of American tank fire directed at the satellite news channel’s Baghdad offices. Ayoub was as familiar to millions of Arab viewers as David Bloom was to Americans. But hardly a peep about Ayoub’s death came from the 24 x 7 purveyors of Bush regime pabulum. No mention is made of ITN’s British correspondent Terry Lloyd who was reportedly killed by U.S. Marine gunfire outside of Basra late last month.
Instead, the cable propagandists began interviewing U.S. military law experts about the need for war crimes trials for Iraqi political and military leaders. No mention is made of courts martial for U.S. troops who deliberately targeted journalists or civilians. It is the disinformation policy that the Bush regime has adopted that is most amazing and worrisome to people the world over. The Bush regime does not want bad news, only good news. The Soviet Union was known for a similar policy — there was no bad news in the old Soviet Empire. Airplane crashes, earthquakes, epidemics, and severe storms were never covered by the Soviet media. The U.S. media, under the thumb of government media manipulators, is gradually adopting the same policy — only one U.S. fixed wing aircraft was shot down by the Iraqis, the rest of aircraft losses were all “accidents,” the killing of civilians and journalists were “accidents,” the bombing of a refugee bus heading to Syria was an “accident.” In other words, the U.S. war on Iraq has been a prefect “10.” Just look at the Iraqis celebrating that their cities are no longer being bombed. They see the Americans and British as liberators, not conquerors. The Orwellian disinformation campaign marches on. George W. Bush has stuck it to the anti-war movement and his political detractors. He is assured of re-election. Doubters like Tom Daschle will pay with their Senate seats next year. There is no economic recession. There is no high unemployment. Tax cuts can pay for the war. Washington, DC kids from poor families are barred from this year’s White House Easter egg hunt — only military dependents are invited. Barbara Bush says she doesn’t watch TV because seeing those coffins coming back to Dover Air Force Base upsets her and her husband. A message for “Babs” — I understand your angst, perhaps you should rent a good movie, like “Nicholas and Alexandra” or “Marie Antoinette.”
Meanwhile, the neo-conservative hawks use the TV and radio airwaves, editorial and op-ed columns, and the floors of the Senate and House to demand a final accounting for all those who demean the motives of the Bush administration (which has become synonymous with the United States in a replay of Louis XIV’s “L’etat c’est moi” concept).
Meanwhile, Americans and legal residents of the United States continue to be rounded up by the thugs of John Ashcroft and Tom Ridge. Muslim residents of the United States, fearful that their “papers are not in order” continue to put a strain on churches and social welfare agencies in small towns in upstate New York and Vermont. Canadian immigration authorities cannot keep up with the flow of refugees out of the United States.
Bush allies on Congress want to drop the sunset provisions of the Patriot Act and make the government’s new powers permanent. The leading proponent of such legislation, Senator Orrin Hatch, recently said on a radio show that Paris is a “nice city . . . if it weren’t for the French who live there.” Get ready for more of such xenophobia and hate speech for the Republicans and their Democratic barnacles. By the way Mr. Hatch, I’ve noticed Utah is a pretty nice state– if it weren’t for all the Mormons who live there.
A victorious George Bush is as dangerous as was a victorious Napoleon. The whiff of an American world empire is in the air. Already the Bush administration is threatening small nations like Barbados, Jamaica, and Chile if they support a Uniting for Peace Resolution to move the international debate about America’s occupation of Iraq from the Security Council to the General Assembly where the U.S. has no veto. Knowing the mindset of the Bush administration, there are probably already plans in effect to “shock and awe” Bridgetown, Kingston, and Santiago. After all, if you already have experience blowing up hotels like the Al Rashid and Palestine Hotels in Baghdad, the thoughts of taking a swipe at the seaside hotels of Barbados and Jamaica must really stir the libido of the chickenhawks.
Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org