A few days ago, I read the interviews that you gave to two Arab-language television channels. I haven’t laughed as much since I finished reading Stupid White Men. Believe me.
I particularly enjoyed the transcript of your interview with Al Arabiya published in The New York Times, above all the parts where you seem to go blank, as though you couldn’t think of anything. But don’t worry. Nobody doubts now that your brain frequently produces great ideas. Perhaps you were just a bit nervous.
Your words provoked me to an astonished cackle. Truly, I feel overwhelmed by the evolution of your thinking over these precious years in the White House. You are definitely no longer that guy labeled by your detractors as ignorant and slow. It’s because of some of your statements that I’ve decided to write this letter.
Apparently, the images of tortured Iraqi prisoners have profoundly affected you, although perhaps you’re only concerned with the reaction in the Middle East. You’re right to think that the average Arab citizen would say, “This isn’t the country that I’ve been told about.” Certainly, the scandalous photos taken in Abu Ghraib are very different from the propaganda on the “American way of life” projected in the mass media. And now, to top it off, several of these same media have published the damn photos.
Take it easy, Mr. President. Surely, what happened in that dark corner of Baghdad is an exceptional case. You yourself have said so: U.S. troops are made up of “decent, honorable citizens who care about freedom and peace.” And of course, if that were to be a widespread problem in the armed forces, as some charges that have emerged during these days indicate, your government would put a stop to it. The world will know the truth, even if it’s after the elections, or 50 years from now. Same difference.
With the torture issue cleared up, let’s move on to the most admirable aspect of your statements. Allow me to extensively quote you:
“It’s very important for the peoples of the Middle East to understand that freedom doesn’t have to look like America. That is, that a free society does not have to be the same as American society. Free societies will develop according to the cultures of… of…of…(it seems like you forgot the rehearsed response, like a lazy schoolboy) of the people in the regions, in the Middle East.”
You have just realized something that your brainiest think tanks have always obviated. The idea of interfering everywhere and trying to impose the U.S. model is unclassifiable sheer stupidity. Eating McDonald’s and listening to the nonsense broadcast by Fox News is not the only civilized way to live. Some people even say that living like that will turn you into an idiot.
Notwithstanding, Mr. President, you should personally instruct your Marines in the philosophy of respecting other cultures. What they did in Iraq was a truly botched job. I don’t know whether you know that the invasion resulted in the devastation of the National Library as well as the most important museums. Just from Baghdad’s Museum of Archeology, 3,000 pieces of incalculable historic value were lost. Your troops permitted that plunder, and even participated in it.
Towards the end of your interview with Al Hurra (the TV channel subsidized by your government to convince Arabs how great the United States is; in other words TV Martí for the Middle East) you reach the pinnacle of clear-sightedness. “I believe the Iraqi people want to be free,” you say. That’s giving it to ’em! Now, explain to me how a country occupied by 150,000 foreign troops can be free. What type of freedom exists when a legion of armed men invade your home, rape your women, kill your children, bomb your house of worship basically, do whatever they feel like because they have guns?
You’ve admitted it. The Iraqis want to be free. That is the basic motivation behind the resistance, the reason why they celebrate when an U.S. patrol is obliterated. Accept it. It’s not about Hussein or Al-Sadr, it’s that the people cannot bear the occupation any longer.
Your other discovery must have cheered your compatriots. “People want jobs,” you admit to Al Hurra. It’s a shame that you’ve realized that so late. During your mandate, two million jobs in the United States have disappeared.
Let’s move on, then, to your momentous announcements.
“People who feel like that (sic) they can wreak havoc on innocent Iraqis will be brought to justice in Iraq, either by Iraqi citizens and/or by coalition forces.” What great news! Finally the White House has decided to bring to trial those responsible for death and suffering in Iraq.
It will be an arduous task. The figures on civilian casualties during the invasion total around 10,000. And since then, the numbers are increasing every day. During the siege of Fallujah, for example, some 600 people died.
While I trust in your goodwill and your spirit of justice, I’d like to ask you something: Who is going to be put on trial? The pilots that dropped the bombs? Those who gave the order to fire? Your friend, the secretary of defense? The owners of the companies that produce military equipment? Yourself, who ordered your armies to do everything possible to take Fallujah? While you ponder that dilemma, you could agree to your Marines being tried by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, or you could repeal the decree that prohibits putting any U.S. soldier on trial for killing a civilian in Iraq.
I’ve saved your most incredible announcement for the end. “Military options are always my last option, not the first option,” you assure the Al Arabiya reporter. “We can promote freedom without use of military.” With these words, you have gained a place in history on the good guys’ side. The books of the future will read as follows: “George W. Bush governed prudently and abandoned the warmongering policy maintained by the United States throughout the 20th century.” We won’t have to witness any more military interventions like Viet Nam, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Kosova, Afghanistan, etc., etc., etc.
And the military-industrial complex? Well, it could be turned into a food-producing complex. In that way, and almost without wanting to, you could do away with hunger in the Third World.
Believe me, if you don’t retract, I will hang a portrait of you in my room and name my first son George.
Well, Mr. W, that’s about it. I just have a couple of pieces of advice before signing off. First, don’t keep blaming Saddam Hussein for the invasion of Iraq. Say openly that you were interested in controlling Iraqi oil and that’s it. We already know. Taking over foreign wealth is virtually a U.S. tradition. In that sense, you haven’t done anything out of the ordinary.
One last piece of advice. Don’t repeat the words “democracy” and “freedom” so much. People are going to think that you have a limited vocabulary, or in the worst case, that you feel bad about stealing the presidency during the democratic elections of 2000, or about depriving the largest prison population in the world of their freedom.
Say hi to Laura and the girls.
BORIS LEONARDO CARO
P.S.: By the way, the W in your name what does it stand for? Whiskey? War? Worst?
BORIS LEONARDO CARO is a staff writer for Granma International. He can be reached at: email@example.com