Another Take on American Pie, 50 Years Later

Aussies opened us up.  Made us crazy with self-doubt and needing to redouble our patriotism by buying guns and hating Others, and if you weren’t careful you could be cancelled — by extreme feminists, Marxist Lennonists, linguistic police, LGBTQ plussers — and we went from GaGa to MAGA in one leap.  We thought we were Evel Knievel at the Snake River jump no fool would do but an American, and when the chute didn’t open, our doubts exploded like  moments that flash before you die. We’re going down —  and we know it.

Aussies turned us into contradictarians and “conspiracy theorists.” 400, 000, 000 guns will scare a lot of pickpockets away, gypsies from other cultures, Austrians from Unter Unter mit der Union Jack tax patch on their flag. But it didn’t scare away Rupert Murdoch, the media  mogul, who was gobbling up everything in his path like the Tasmanian Devil, feeding folks page 3 titillation in the UK, before turning his hungry eyes toward fast food America and starting up Fox News in 1996 as an alternative to the Atlanta-based start-up, CNN. Murdoch is now an Australian-America, speaking of contradictions, conservative versus “free.”

It’s amazing how quickly, almost effortlessly Aussies opened us up. Foreign Policy in a nutshell: Why are we overseas taking down democratically-elected governments, performing coups, and corrupting and finding dirt on enemies and allies  alike (Merkel).?  It was the intrepid and “take-no-shit” Aussie, John Pilger, who somehow coaxed out of Duane Clarridge, ex-CIA agent and former head of the Counter Terrorism Center,  all we needed to know about the health of the presumededly retired Ugly American from the 50s, when Clarridge gladly piped up about the CIA’s role in taking down the democratically-elected “Whats-His-Name” of Chile on 9/11 1973. The reader will recall the infamous, suggestive quote from Henry Kissinger not long before the coup:

I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.

Toward the end of the interview with Pilger, Clarridge lays it out: This Is American Foreign Policy:

We’ll intervene whenever we decide it’s in our national security interest to intervene. And if you don’t like it, lump it. Get used to it. World. We’re not going to put up with nonsense. And if our interests are threatened, we’re going to do it.

Really. The reader interested in understanding American foreign policy from a “gloves off” POV for the last 50 years should watch Pilger’s The War On Democracy about US intervention in Venezuela. Lest you think, as “they” want you to think, that Clarridge was just a “rogue operator,” consider that long after everybody thought he was gone he showed up in the Afghanistan War as a contractor (calling himself “a private CIA” ) that another CIA Counterterrorism Chief, Cofer Black, claims to have been the main CIA planner and architect for. Black’s own words (at Indeed, Black may have invited Clarridge in.

Later, in 2016 before he died, Mr. Rogue would tell Mr. Murdoch’s Fox News that the Saudis have nukes.

Today, Cofer Black serves on the Board of Directors at Burisma Holdings, the controversial gas company (accused of international money laundering) , and owned by an oligarch who championed Vladimir Zelensky’s rise to power, and where Joe Biden’s kid, Hunter, sat as a director for years. In Hunter’s ghost-written memoir, Beautiful Things, quotes a family member as saying, “[H]aving a Biden on Burisma’s board was a loud and unmistakable fuck-you to Putin.” Raising the question: How many Fuck Yous is Cofer Black worth?  And BTW, many of the Burisma holdings are in the Crimea.

Australians have opened us up.  Julian Assange was in the forefront of resisting the American Empire as it unfurled its flag across a flat world.  Many folks don’t realize that Assange and his ethical hacktivists (see Certified Ethical Hackers) have been at it since their teenage years — for Assange that turns out to be a couple of decades. He first got in trouble with The Man when he was a teenager. The Australians made a movie about his early years and seemed to relish in his hacking “misadventures,” no blood, no foul rule in play.

Early on, according to Aussie ABC journalist and professed Assange backer, Andrew Fowler in his updated book on Assange, The Most Dangerous Man in the World, details how the teen Assange and his hacktivists, as “the Wank Worm” hoax, broke into NASA’s command center during a launch of the nuclear-powered Galileo probe, and briefly prevented engineers from controlling the launch and putting terrifying images of another Challenger event — this time with nuclear material spread far and wide and which, Fowler’s NASA interlocutor says, would have killed “everyone in Florida” and was described as “as feeling like ‘an electronic Pearl Harbour.” But it was a hoax. (And strangely reminiscent of Ed Snowden’s self-described early, easy hack of Los Alamos, which, even stranger, led to his first job in government.)

Assange opened us up.  Cables. The lies about Iraq, Afghanistan, the State Department. Later Hillary and the DNC. But the Biggie remains the video he received from Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning — the visceral “Collateral Murder” feed from a helicopter in an Iraqi village, published in April 2010, and which one watches as if it were a snuff film from the Dark Net (purportedly). Ratatatataat. Down go civilians and two Reuters journalists.  More disturbing still, the shooters can be heard laughing their asses off.  Check it out. Maybe you’ll get punchline, too:

AK-47s!  RPGs!  Nope. No weapons of mass destruction. Wikileaks called Americans war criminals and liars.  This is what taxpayers were paying for, on top of the illegal war to begin with.

Bombs were developed so that when they fell they whistled — an intentional terroristic device. We humans love terrorizing each other with sound weapons.  One of the best scenes from Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam film classic is the Ride of the Valkyries, the bombastic  tune taken from Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen opera, which is like a longer version of the Star Spangled Banner. How come we can’t have a beautiful anthem like the Aussies — or even go with America the Beautiful, albeit that would be ironic now, what with all the shitting and fracking in the bed?

You’d a-thunk that the embarrassment of Collateral Damage would have led to helicopter soldiers being commanded to keep a damper on the horn blowing, but you’d be wrong. But just a couple of years later, in Afghanistan, another Apache helicopter gunship atrocity was recorded. This time, in the sequel to Collateral Murder, we hear the pilot singing “Good Bye, Miss [sic, real sic] American Pie,” as he fires hellfire rockets at unknowns below.

We don’t care. BTW, check out my review of the classic Don McLean tune American Pie at 50 years old. It’s one of my better ones. Free verse!

Well, I guess that’s all I have to say about Aussies.  They have their own pies to worry about — like Harold Holt, the Prime Minister, who went for a swim and didn’t come back from the sea. (The Aussies later named a swim center after him. Get it?) Some say he got “taken” away to China and ended up in a re-education camp there, and came to like speaking the bucky-bucky beaver lingo so much he stayed on and does Mao impersonations on the dinner dim sum circuit. Another PM, Kevin Rudd, who speaks Mandarin, was going to be “taken” and sent to be “Mao’s” sidekick Chou en Lai, but took his sorry ass elsewhere, as punishment for his sorry Aboriginal Sorry speech (Think: onions and William Hurt crying in Broadcast News). Re-education in China, some critics had it, was too good for Rudd.

Aussies. Even when they weren’t at it they were influenzing American culture.  Just trying to make a buck like everyone in the doggone neoliberal world, the Tasmanians and their poppy industry provided most of the oxycontin grade flower that hooked so many Americans on the drug (Johnson and Johnson, not Sackler). Check out: “Tasmanian poppy farmers are at the centre of the US opioid crisis, but they say they’re not to blame.” Depressing, eh?

American chopper suey. Even Chuck Connors, Boston Celtics sharpshooter and the Rifleman, weighs in on “our” tendency to whimsically slaughter Others. Here he is in Embassy (1980) as a Russian infiltrator at the US embassy in Lebanon looking to pop a Red defector to the US during the Cold War (the first one), who gets caught, interrogated, and backhanded by Broderick Crawford, after describing to him the actions of a helicopter gunship in Vietnam.

Throw another on the barbie as Modus O.

Coleslaw as foreign policy.

If we weren’t so busy blaming the Russians, we could blame the Aussies. For everything.  Of course, the Aussies are, ultimately, still a colony of the British (check out stamp tax Union Jack on their flag), er, Empire, so we’d have to blame our best friend, and best friends don’t do that. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.

John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelancer based in Australia.  He is a former reporter for The New Bedford Standard-Times.