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Foreign Correspondent
by international syndicated columnist & broadcaster Eric Margolis


Copyright: Eric S. Margolis, 2005

September 12, 2005

Hurricane Katrina confirmed the long-held suspicion that President George W. Bush and his administration have what East Africans call `bad mogambo’ – that is, terrible fortune.

After the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington four years ago this week, Bush insisted `there was no way we knew they were coming’. Just before the attacks, the Bush Administration actually cut spending on anti-terrorism.

This week, Bush insisted, `I don’t think anyone anticipated the breeching of the (New Orleans) levees.’ Last year, the administration cut spending on levee heightening and ignored warnings from numerous government and civil agencies that New Orleans was in peril.

Welcome to no-fault government.

We now know from administration insiders that the Bush White House and National Security Council received a stream of warnings of imminent al-Qaida attack but were asleep on guard duty.

Bush and then National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice kept spurning warnings about the danger of al-Qaida while they obsessed about Iraq – which, of course, had nothing at all to do with promoting terrorism.

A `black’ surveillance operation, `Able Danger,’ run by US Army intelligence inside the US( which is illegal) has been leaking out. In early 2000, it identified 9/11 ringleader, Mohammed Atta, and warned he was plotting to use civilian aircraft in a massive terrorist attack.

But the Sept 11 Congressional Commission - a shameless political whitewash – claimed there was no evidence of Atta or his plans. Not a single Bush Administration official was found responsible for 9/11. The rigged commission exonerated the White House, CIA and Congress of blame for the 9/11 disaster. Two architects of the Iraq disaster, former CIA chief George Tenet and Pentagon neocon Douglas Feith, who concocted and transmitted most of the lies about Iraq, were given medals by Bush.

If a US Navy vessel runs aground, its captain is relieved of duty and court-martialed. But not the US commander-in-chief. As usual, the gelded US media meekly accepted the Bush-orchestrated whitewash.

A federal commission warned flooding of New Orleans was the third gravest disaster facing America. But as Katrina bore down on the Gulf Coast, the White House remained fixated, as ever, on its faux war on terrorism. The main National Guard units of the three Gulf states were in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Compare the humiliating, horribly botched New Orleans hurricane fiasco with a powerful typhoon that lashed Japan last week. Over 300,000 people were efficiently evacuated by its government from coastal areas. There was no panic, disorder or looting. Another typhoon also hit China last week: one million people were efficiently evacuated ahead of the storm.

The Bush Administration has now presided over three national debacles: 9/11; the $6.5-billion monthly, unwinable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that are costing as much as Vietnam war; and now, strike three, New Orleans.

Yet the White House claims the right and duty to bring good government to benighted foreign nations. Nation-building begins at home. Better US troops should bring clean water and food to the American South’s wretched blacks.

The only good thing to come out of Katrina is that for the first time since 9/11, members of the US mainstream media began to act like journalists and sharply question, or even debunk, posturing government officials. This was a welcome development. But had it come after 9/11 and before the Iraq invasion, the whole disaster in Mesopotamia and a ruinous, ongoing war would have been averted.

The 9/11 attacks plunged normally humane America into a period of temporary madness. Beating war drums allowed the White House to usurp national power, paralyzing the other two arms of government, Congress and the judiciary. America’s democratic system stopped working.

Anyone who opposed the trumped up war in Iraq or criticize its promoter, President Bush, was branded a traitor. Mainstream media became as a mouthpiece for the White House and war party. The Orwellian Patriot Act was enacted to curtail liberties and free speech.

National war fever and lust for revenge that followed the 9/11 attacks allowed a small group of closet totalitarians, a cabal of neoconservatives whose first loyalties were not always to America, and end-of world religious fanatics to assume a dominant role in the Bush Administration. They hijacked its foreign policy, and steadily pushed the US into war against the Muslim World.

We now know the entire Iraq War was based on lies concocted by neoconservatives. Those CIA veterans, regional experts and veteran journalists, like this writer, who dared oppose the Big Lie campaign were scourged and often silenced.

None of the media pundits and so-called intelligence analysts who promoted the Iraq War and misled the public lost their jobs. They continue to mislead the public.

By next spring, Iraq and Afghanistan will have cost a least US $260 billion. Add some $200 billion for 9/11; and now a $100 billion plus cleanup bill for Katrina, and even the mighty US is staggering under huge financial blows. These, and Bush’s reckless deficit spending, are producing an onrushing tsunami of inflation.

We may even be seeing the fulfillment of Osama bin Laden’s oft-stated strategic plan, begun by the 9/11 attacks, of goading the US into overseas wars that bleed it financially until it can no longer afford to deploy power across the globe. Bush swaggered right into this trap.

Final irony: Iraq’s oil exports plummeted because of the US invasion, contributing to today’s shortages and high prices. Consider this when next refilling your car.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2005


  • The president of the world’s most populous nation, and a major market for North American exports, is coming this week to the US. Unfortunately, it seems President Bush could not find time in his busy schedule to invite President Hu Jintao of China to a formal state dinner. There will be a Rose Garden reception of the type accorded to every visiting head of state, but no dinner.

    That is clearly a slap in the face to President Hu and a slight to China’s honor that will cause deep consternation in Beijing. Hard liners will take Bush’s rude behavior as evidence that the neoconservatives guiding US foreign policy are set in a pattern of dangerous confrontation with China.

    Stupid, petty and utterly unnecessary.

  • I’ve just finished reading `Pakistan – Between Mosque and Military’ by Husain Haqqani, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and, most lately, a professor at Boston University.

    I’ve known Haqqani for two decades. He used to serve as press secretary to three Pakistani prime ministers, including Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, and as ambassador to Sri Lanka. Haqqani was always known for his quick mind, sharp wits and ability to get his prime ministers out of trouble.

    Haqqani has written an excellent book on Pakistan that covers its turbulent politics from independence in 1947 to the present military regime of Pervez Musharraff. The author examines in great detail the role played in Pakistan by its powerful armed forces and intelligence service, ISI, and how both power centers have used Islam to advance their own ambitions and policies.

    This book is scholarly, carefully researched and filled with a wealth of detail about the murky workings of Pakistani politics and state policy. The author, who is very well known in Pakistan, is clearly positioning himself by this important book to assume a key position in a future Pakistani civilian government that eventually replaces military rule.

    While this writer has rather more sympathy for the Pakistani military, ISI and the late strongman, Gen. Zia ul-Haq, than does Haqqani, I strongly recommend this fine work to anyone seeking in-depth understanding of the way this critically important nation works.

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

    To read previous columns by Mr. Margolis: Click here

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