This is a column originally published in The Moscow Times on May 17, 2002. Or as Hamlet would say: O my prophetic soul!
Quietly, without fanfare, in a bland statement issued by its most "moderate" front man, the Bush Regime crossed another moral Rubicon last week, carrying the once-great republic they have usurped deeper into the blood-soaked mire of international criminality.
The move – committing the United States of America to a policy of Hitlerian military aggression – was little noted at the time. A quick soundbite, maybe, on a couple of the more wonky TV news shows; a brief quote buried somewhere in the thick gray sludge of the "serious" papers. The Regime guaranteed its poison pill would go down sugarcoated by picking Secretary of State Colin Powell as its mouthpiece.
It was a masterstroke of propaganda, really. The former general has long been regarded by the "serious" media on both sides of the Atlantic as a "moderate" maverick on Bush's hard-right team. Liberal commentators praise Powell as a "restraining influence" on more bellicose insiders like Cheney and Rumsfeld, and a wise, guiding hand for a president unschooled in the subtleties of world diplomacy.
It's all a sham, of course. Powell is nothing more than a lifelong bagman for powerful interests. His willingness to play ball, to look the other way, has made him a convenient tool for the some of the most violent and undemocratic forces ever to pollute American society.
His first job on the Inside was an attempted whitewash of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam; it didn't quite work, but he won points for his obfuscatory efforts and went on to a plum job in the crime-ridden Nixon White House. Then came Iran-Contra, the criminal conspiracy of drug-running and terrorism operated directly out of the Reagan-Bush White House. Powell illicitly sent missiles to the terrorist regime of Ayatollah Khomeini, then helped with the ensuing cover-up. For this service, he was made head of the entire U.S. military.
He then directed the illegal American aggression against Panama, when President George H.W. Bush killed hundreds, perhaps thousands of innocent civilians in a hissy fit against his old CIA employee Manuel Noreiga. Powell, like Bush, had long known Noreiga was a murderous drug dealer, but they found him useful, and plied him with plaudits and cash – until Bush needed to prove his tough-guy cojones to Reaganite critics in the Republican Party.
Now Powell serves faithfully as a water-carrier for the rabid rightists in Bush Junior's crew. Powell breaks bread with John Ashcroft, who breaks bread with the avowed racists at Southern Partisan magazine, who break bread with extremists who call for concentration camps, expulsions and executions for, among many others, African-Americans. It doesn't bother Powell. He's never made a public moral stand against any hard-right lunacy advocated by his bosses and their cronies. He just follows orders. He's a General Jodl for the 21st century.
So what better man to announce George W. Bush's adoption of Adolf Hitler's moral code? Powell sat down with the media sycophants on ABC's "This Week" and calmly – moderately – laid out the new doctrine. The subject, of course, was Iraq. The UN was working on a deal that would allow international inspectors back into the country to verify that Saddam Hussein no longer possessed weapons of mass destruction.
These inspections were vital because, as George W. never ceases to remind us, Saddam Hussein is so evil that he "gassed his own people." And he most certainly did. But Junior always omits the inconvenient fact that one year after Hussein killed 100,000 Iraqi Kurds, Daddy Bush signed an executive order mandating closer U.S. ties to Saddam's regime. Daddy Bush showered Saddam with endless financial credits and mountains of "dual-use technology" – which the dictator duly used to develop his WMDs – right up until the day before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Needless to say, Powell, as head of Daddy's military, was complicit in this lunatic operation and raised no demur, "moderate" or otherwise.
Flash forward to the present day. Junior Bush is now in the White House. For months, he has threatened military action against Iraq if Hussein fails to verify the destruction of his WMD capacity. (At the same time, of course, Junior undercuts international treaties that would require monitoring of his own biochemical warfare facilities. There's a good reason for that: the Regime is now preparing to develop offensive biochemical weapons, in contravention of international and U.S. law, the Village Voice reports.)
The world braces for another conflagration in the Mesopotamian sands. But then Saddam blinks. He starts talking with the UN. He renounces aggression. He tries to make up with Kuwait. Sooner or later, the inspectors will go back in – no cause for war now, right?
Wrong, Powell told the sycophants last week. The "moderate" secretary said that even if UN inspectors go in and verify compliance, the Bush Regime still "reserves its options" to do anything necessary, including military invasion, to effect a "regime change." Bush himself has already acknowledged that nuclear force is among those "options."
So there it is. The United States now openly claims the right to launch an all-out attack on any nation in the world whose regime it doesn't like – even if that nation is not engaged in active military aggression or terrorism – and even if the mere threat of aggression has been defused by UN monitoring.
No provocation necessary. No legality required. Just a thuggish elite raining death on the world, for profit and power, sowing hatred for the once-great nation they have hijacked – and ensuring more death and terror for its people.