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The Media Watchdog

Foreign Correspondent
by international syndicated columnist & broadcaster Eric Margolis


November 3, 2003

Watching the storm of car bombs, rockets, and gunfire in central Iraq last week, and the deaths of 19 Americans over the weekend, gave me nasty déjà vu back to the January, 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam.

Then, many of the soldiers our US Army unit were getting ready to depart for Special Forces camps in Vietnam's Central Highlands. We stood in mute horror watching TV, as reports flooded in that these very camps being overrun by North Vietnamese troops, and their garrisons killed to the last man.

We immediately understood the bloody Tet offensive was a huge political and psychological victory for North Vietnam. Tet blew away for good Washington's claims of light at the end of the Vietnam tunnel.

Reacting to last week's Ramadan offensive in Iraq, President George Bush actually claimed it proved things were improving, though attacks on US forces have surged from 20 to 30 daily. He called for more US-run Iraqi `sepoy' forces to be deployed — shades of the ill-fated `Vietnamization' strategy of three decades ago.

At times, Bush and his senior aides seem more out of touch with reality than Iraq's former minister of misinformation, `Comical' Ali. Consider:

  • Bush was reported shocked and amazed at his mid-October meetings in Bali with moderate, pro-American Muslim leaders who complained Washington considers all Muslims terrorists. They warned the surprised Bush that his total identification with Israel's rightwing government was ruining chances for Mideast peace.

    Bush was apparently unaware his administration is increasingly viewed abroad as an aggressor and a bitter foe of Islam. We know Bush prides himself in not reading, but being so out of touch staggers the imagination.

    Is Bush really unaware a mainstay of his administration, the Muslim-hunting Attorney General John Ashcroft, claims `in America, there is no king but Jesus!'

    Or Lt. Gen William Boykin, a loudmouthed imbecile he put in charge of anti-terrorism, recently claimed while in uniform that Muslims were akin to Satan, and that his god was `bigger' than idols he mistakenly said were worshipped by Muslims.

    Or that Bush's neo-conservative advisors, who want the US to destroy all Israel's enemies, keep calling for `World War IV' against the Muslim world?

    Bush was too busy blasting Malaysia's retiring leader, who recently claimed Jews ran the world and the United States, to denounce equally odious canards against Islam by his own administration and its fevered supporters in the media and on the religious far right.

    Bush, of course, has never been in touch with reality. Just recall his preposterous claim about Iraqi uranium, `drones of death,' `vans of death,' links to al-Qaida, the imminent threat of mass destruction to the US from Iraq, etc.

  • VP Dick Cheney, who appears to be running Mideast policy, repeatedly claimed Iraq had deployed nuclear weapons that threatened the US. He maintains such absurd claims, though absolutely nothing was found after a 5-month, $300 million search. The rarely-seen Cheney sounds as isolated and out of touch as old Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, except that the ditty Ludwig didn't start any wars.

  • Poor Colin Powell, now demoted to TV talk show guest, disgraced himself before the world at the UN by his lurid, nonsensical claims about Iraq.

  • Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a prime architect of the Iraq War, went to Baghdad last week where he met the real world for the first time. Iraqi resistance forces rocketed the heavily-guarded al-Rashid Hotel, the imperial cantonment where he and other US VIP's were lodged.

    One was reminded of the Vietcong attack on the US Embassy in Saigon during Tet.

    The attack left Professor Wolfowitz visibly shaking and badly frightened. Here was the fire-eating warlord, the `ruthless' neo-con theoretician who had sent American GI's into combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, trembling in his brand-new chukka boots after the tiniest taste of real war.

Neither Bush, Cheney, nor Wolfowitz ever served in their nation's armed forces, though all were of military age during the Vietnam War — unless you count George Bush's sporadic appearances at the Texas Air National Guard.

Wolfowitz, and fellow neo-conservative Administration warmongers, like Richard Perle, Elliot Abrams, Doug Feith, Michael Ledeen, and John Bolton (all avoided military service), who now call for attacks on Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Sudan — vividly recall the words of American political thinker and poet, Peter Viereck.

In his brilliant book. `Metapolitics — The Roots of the Nazi Mind,' Viereck detailed how so many of the founders of the Germany's National Socialist Party were artists, writers, and academics. They were `intellectuals who lusted for brute violence…a Bohemia in arms,' wrote Viereck, who warned of `bloody-minded professors' run amok in politics.

Secretary Wolfowitz fits this mould perfectly, though he is in no way a nazi. He, Cheney, and his fellow neo-cons duped the deeply uninformed and gravely misinformed president into launching two strategically, politically, and financially idiotic foreign wars. The isolated, unworldly Bush is only now becoming dimly aware he has stirred up an anti-America hornet's nest overseas.

Equally disturbing, thanks to the crusades in Iraq and Afghanistan, total US military spending next year will likely hit 500 billion dollars. Incredibly, this titanic sum is even more in constant dollars than the US spent in Vietnam in 1968, at the height of that war.

The light that optimistic George Bush sees at the end of the Iraq tunnel is probably an onrushing truck, loaded with explosives.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2003

Published at since 1995 with permission, as a courtesy and in appreciation.

To read previous columns by Mr. Margolis: Click here

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