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What do you call it when George W. Bush, without provocation and based on false pretenses, sends an army to invade a foreign nation; and then, without any attempt to negotiate a surrender, effect an arrest, or put this nation’s leaders on trial and present evidence of their crimes, instead puts multimillion dollar bounties on their heads, relies on collaborators and spies to track them down, and then corners them and blows them away in their homes, in their own country?
Do you call it what the Israelis, who lately have done it hundreds of times, call it? A targeted kill?
What would you call it if Saddam Hussein hunted down and killed George Bush’s daughters in Texas? Cold-blooded murder?
How about calling this sort of behavior assassination?
Why call it anything? A rose by any other name, right?
And don’t even ask if targeted kills, cold blooded murders, and assassinations are legal or moral. Who the hell cares?
They’re popular. It’s so much fun, you can even find death cards on the Internet, naming the people that Bush plans to kill in Iraq. It’s like a videogame, or that old Steve McQueen show, Wanted Dead or Alive.
Bush really gets into it too; “Bring ’em on,” he said, playing the role of Paladin in Have Gun Will Travel; and since then a couple of GIs have gotten killed every day. But what the hell, it’s a volunteer army, and it isn’t you or me. So they die for Bush’s vainglory. Who cares? It’s the vicarious thrill that counts.
Back when the CIA was assassinating foreign leaders all over the world, in the 1950s, ’60s, and 70s, they secretly liked to call it Executive Action. Those were the bad old days, when the CIA had to secretly go about its dirty business of mass murder. Back then they had to resort to euphemisms to get the job done.
In the Republic of Vietnam, first the CIA called the mass murder of its enemies, in their own country, elimination. But that sounded too harsh, so it changed the term to neutralize.
In 1967 the CIA created the infamous Phoenix Program to neutralize — which meant to hunt down through informants and then kill, capture, torture and detain indefinitely — a revolving annual door of some 70,000 members of Communist and Nationalist insurgents, and anyone supporting them politically or administratively, in their own country.
The United States government admits that the CIA killed some 25,000 people through the Phoenix Program. It did successfully and gleefully neutralize some hundreds of thousands altogether. They know how to do it and they’re ready to cast the Phoenix spell worldwide.
Now we have it from Richard Perle — one of the corrupt cabal that rules the White House, and makes Israeli policy American policy in cahoots with the Bush oil régime, whose loyalty lies not to the American public but to its own self-enrichment — that America will not leave Iraq as long as some 30,000 members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party, in Perle’s words, remain active.
So now maybe they’re gonna change the term to inactivating?
By inactivating, Bush, Perle, Wolfowitz and the other members of their criminal régime mean the planned mass murder of some 30,000 Iraqis in Iraq. If they do it the way they did it in Vietnam, just like Bob Kerrey’s little mission in Thanh Phong, they also plan to inactivate the families and friends of these 30,000 people.
You can’t terrorize insurgents into submission unless you do it this way, as the Israelis have taught us so well. You have to terrorize everyone. Just like the Israelis terrorized the Palestinians into a state of submission.
The newspaper and TV commentators applaud this Iraqi experiment in targeted kills and mass murder as boosting the morale of the American occupation army.
Just today the headlines hailed the inactivating of Saddam Hussein sons as a righteous act that was more than merely morally justifiable, but something akin to Divine justice.
And no one is astounded, because the vast majority of Americans were ethically inactivated a long time ago, through 50 years of government propaganda. In order to enjoy their SUVs and cell phones, they will rejoice while George W. Bush, in his role as God Almighty, cuts a swath of righteous savagery through the world, mass murdering everyone he and the cabal designate as their personal enemies — just like George W. Bush, all by his little lonesome, tried convicted and sentenced Saddam Hussein and his family to death, and then went out and killed them.
From now on, Bush alone chooses who lives or dies, and no one can stop him. It is the One Commandment that the American empire is based upon. And that’s how we have become a nation of assassins, void of conscience.
Call it Apotheosis by the Divine Right of Execution. Or call it what it really is: sick.
DOUGLAS VALENTINE is the author of The Hotel Tacloban, The Phoenix Program, and TDY. His new book The Strength of the Wolf: the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1930-1968 will be published by Verso. Valentine was an investigator for Pepper on the King case in 1998-1999. For information about Valentine and his books and articles, please visit his website at www.douglasvalentine.com.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Valentine’s last article for CounterPunch was:
An Act of State: the Assassination of Martin Luther King