The following quotes are from Bush’s speech about the War on Terror, as given October 6, 2005, and largely repeated October 28. It was a speech especially dense with Bushspeak, a dialect which never means what it seems to say. Perspective and the occasional translation follow the quotes.
“All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the news can seem like random and isolated acts of madness; innocent men and women and children have died simply because they boarded the wrong train, or worked in the wrong building, or checked into the wrong hotel. Yet while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane. “
You might ask how is it possible to choose victims more indiscriminately than by bombing cities? The Pentagon doesn’t even attempt to count Iraq’s dead, civilian or military. Two serious efforts have been made to count the civilian toll of the barbarism called “Shock and Awe.” One, an effort to count bodies all over the country in morgues, hospitals, and other likely places, came up with more than 25,000 killed. Another scientific study of Iraq’s national mortality tables, published in the British medical journal Lancet, came up with about a 100,000.
What is Bush’s understanding of this “clear and focused ideology”?
“Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism.”
Bush uses these coined-by-neocon advertising slogans to describe an ideology, but in fact all they do is attempt to re-package plain old religious extremists. I cannot help wondering how we would distinguish them from Franklin Graham preaching about using nuclear weapons following 9/11 or Pat Robertson speaking about assassinating a democratically-elected leader or the crazed preaching of heavily-armed American cults?
“We know the vision of the radicals because they’ve openly stated it — in videos, and audiotapes, and letters, and declarations, and websites.”
Do you believe the audiotapes and videos periodically broadcast any more than you believe the proved-fake documentation of Hussein buying uranium in Niger? Are any of these so-called sources any more believable than the ridiculous video CNN broadcast after the invasion of Afghanistan in which dogs were being killed in a secret mountain weapons laboratory run by men wearing sandals? How about spy satellite shots of mobile weapons labs that never existed, evidence solemnly presented by Colin Powell before the UN?
Do you even believe Osama bin Laden is alive? Bush has no reason ever to reveal Osama’s death, an act which would convert Osama from leader in hiding to Martyr. Of course, if you are reading this piece, you likely are the wrong kind of person of whom to ask such questions. Bush’s words are crafted for people who let CNN do their thinking for them.
“Now they’ve set their sights on Iraq. Bin Laden has stated: “The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries. It’s either victory and glory, or misery and humiliation.” The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror.”
Bush follows a dubious quote from bin Laden with a preposterous conclusion. There were, before Bush’s invasion, no terrorists in Iraq. Iraq’s secret police hardly afforded a refuge to terrorists or any other potential conspirators. Moreover, Hussein, the secularist, and bin Laden, the religious fanatic, are known to have hated each other.
Post-invasion Iraq is crawling with resistance fighters from many places and of every possible description. In the words of the head of Canada’s intelligence service, CSIS, Iraq has become a training ground for thousands who will threaten Western security for years to come. We all have Bush to thank for this development.
“The radicals exploit local conflicts to build a culture of victimization, in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution.”
I can’t imagine words that better describe America’s reaction to 9/11. About twenty people committed a terrible crime. Instead of going about the business of identifying and trying any others who were responsible, Bush launched two wars he promises to continue for years to come.
A culture of victimization? America is the world authority on that odd subject. Following 9/11 everything from the giant street signs at doughnut shops to blinking signs on gas pumps insisted that Americans must never forget. There were even sweatshirts being sold in supermarkets and gardening centers. It was all one huge, confused, and dangerous reaction spurred on by an incompetent man at the top muttering about “with us or against us.”
“And they exploit modern technology to multiply their destructive power.”
What modern technology? The men who died carrying out 9/11 possessed weapons like box cutters to take over the planes. The young men in the London Underground bombing carried backpacks with relatively crude bombs in them.
Bush deliberately confuses the resistance in Iraq with terrorists in other places. The resistance in Iraq now does have some improved technology for attacking American armored vehicles. But why should this surprise anyone? Many of these people have military experience and they have resources that were stored away by Hussein. Besides, everyone learns quickly during the deadly intensity of military conflict. During a few years of World War I, new technologies for killing emerged quickly, including tanks, machine guns, poison gas, and air bombardment.
“The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse. The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet the militants killed more than 180 Russian schoolchildren in Beslan. “
Bush’s cynicism and dishonesty here are off the meter. The Russians have carried on for years a hideous war against Chechen independence. Journalists from Europe have reported almost indescribable horrors. The Chechens are desperate for vengeance against so powerful and ruthless an opponent. People who have experienced the treatment they have experienced are indeed capable of almost anything. Were Russia still the old Soviet Union, Bush would be sending weapons and encouragement to Chechnya.
“He (bin Laden) assures them that his — that this is the road to paradise — though he never offers to go along for the ride.”
Coming from someone who avoided military service during a major war so that he could carry on a carefree frat-life, someone whose National Guard records have been mutilated, presumably to hide failings, this is quite a statement. It is, moreover, quite wrong. Bin Laden, whatever we may think of him, fought bravely in Afghanistan against the Russians, gaining an almost legendary reputation. He is now, assuming he is alive, a man whose age and health would rule out military service.
“When 25 Iraqi children are killed in a bombing, or Iraqi teachers are executed at their school, or hospital workers are killed caring for the wounded, this is murder, pure and simple — the total rejection of justice and honor and morality and religion. These militants are not just the enemies of America, or the enemies of Iraq, they are the enemies of Islam and the enemies of humanity. We have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before, in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags, and the Cultural Revolution, and the killing fields.”
Bush has killed and mutilated thousands of Iraqi children. It cannot be otherwise when you bomb heavily in a country where so large a fraction of the population is young.
“And Islamic radicalism, like the ideology of communism, contains inherent contradictions that doom it to failure.”
Bush repeats the phrase “like the ideology of communism” a number of times, trying to establish a comparison that doesn’t exist. Communism controlled a number of major nations in the world. The opposition of these governments to Western freedoms came directly out the fact that you cannot run a highly centralized state and permit freedom as we understand it. Islamic extremists control no states.
“Those who despise freedom and progress have condemned themselves to isolation, decline, and collapse.”
Bush here applies an idea that does not fit from theories of economic development. This was always the case for communist governments whose abuse of basic economic principles doomed them to eventual decline. Nevertheless, for decades did America behave as though the analysis were true? No, America spent trillions, literally trillions, of dollars in a quasi-religious war against communism. In the end, communism did collapse of its own contradictions.
From the American point of view, the purpose of the Cold War, at least once the truly dangerous, paranoid Stalin was dead (early 1953), was to secure American hegemony through much of the world.
“…the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, who was chief of al Qaeda operations in the Persian Gulf….”
Mastermind? One suicide bomber in a small boat approached the Cole and blew a hole in her hull. How does that require a “mastermind”? The man in the small boat was determined, and the crew of the American ship was lax guarding it – end of story.
“Second, we’re determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes, and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation. The United States, working with Great Britain, Pakistan, and other nations has exposed and disrupted a major black-market operation in nuclear technology led by A.Q. Khan.”
Outlaw regimes with weapons of mass destruction? Doesn’t that exactly describe Pakistan? And before 9/11, that was pretty much the official American view. General Musharraf is a coup-installed dictator, and his government developed atomic weapons in direct opposition to American policy. Yet today, magically, he is listed with democracies in the fight against terror.
Mr. Khan is Pakistani and is regarded as father of the country’s atomic-weapons program. Despite assertions otherwise, it seems inconceivable his covert activities in spreading nuclear know-how were unknown to his government.
“The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they’re equally as guilty of murder.”
Has Bush heard the name Luis Posada Carriles, a man who blew up an airliner full of people and is kept from facing trial in Venezuela? Of course he has, and that makes this statement ridiculous.
“The terrorist goal is to overthrow a rising democracy, claim a strategic country as a haven for terror, destabilize the Middle East, and strike America and other free nations with ever-increasing violence. Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies at the heart of their power — and so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq.”
This is preposterous. Guerilla forces do not work this way. The hide, harass, and make life unpleasant for those they oppose. Taking control of a state only invites retaliation against a clearly-defined target. Look what Bush did to the city of Fallujah, thinking it was a hotbed of terrorists. Marines turned it into a ghost town, yet resistance still flourishes.
“With every random bombing and with every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots, or resistance fighters — they are murderers at war with the Iraqi people, themselves.”
No, what they mainly are is one side in a civil war precipitated by Bush’s invasion, and civil wars are always the nastiest wars.
“Some observers question the durability of democracy in Iraq. They underestimate the power and appeal of freedom.”
Democracy and freedom are not the same thing. Majorities often deny minorities their rights and freedoms. America has a long history of government with democratic trappings that has denied freedom to others. Ask the people of Hawaii. Ask Hispanics in Texas or California. Ask almost any black American.
Sunnis and others in Iraq feel Bush has stacked things against their interests with the new constitution, and they are right.
“We’re standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes, because we know that the dissidents of today will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow.”
But the people Bush calls terrorists often are the dissidents in their own lands. Bin Laden certainly could claim this description in his native Saudi Arabia.
“Iraqi soldiers are sacrificing to defeat al Qaeda in their own country.”
Al Qaeda? Is that really Bush’s enemy in Iraq? Surely, even he does not believe that. His enemies there include the normal resistance fighters against invasion we would find anywhere, native minority groups whose interests are threatened by the government he installed, and undoubtedly many angry young men from other lands who see grievous injustice in Bush’s invasion.
The name War on Terror is itself perhaps the darkest example of Bushspeak. You cannot have a war on ideas, or a war on religious beliefs, or even a war on people’s feelings of grievance and injustice. The War on Terror is code for belligerent interference in the Middle East. It is also code for the suppression of dissent in America, something dear to the kind of people with which Bush surrounds himself, people who lie, cheat, and profit from billions of dollars being squandered. And all this crashes over us as a result of what the intelligence community calls blowback from bad policies and neglect of years ago.