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Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta
By Gore Vidal
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The Vice President to Richard Nixon and bribe-taker to many, Spiro Agnew, was once inspired to say, “The United States, for all its faults, is still the greatest nation in the country.” Today, even in the wake of the Supreme Court’s purloining of the election for the forty-third President, Spiro must be standing tall among his fellow shades. Have we not come through, yet again? As we did in 1888, when Grover Cleveland’s plurality of the popular vote was canceled by the intricacies of the Electoral College, and as we even more famously did in 1876, when the Democrat Samuel Tilden got 264,000 more votes than the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, whose party then challenged the votes in Oregon, South Carolina, Louisiana and—yes, that slattern Florida. An electoral commission chosen by Congress gave the election to the loser, Hayes, by a single vote, the result of chicanery involving a bent Supreme Court Justice appointed by the sainted Lincoln. Revolution was mooted but Tilden retired to private life and to the pleasures of what old-time New Yorkers used to recall, wistfully, as one of the greatest collections of pornography in the Gramercy Park area of Manhattan.
Until December 12, we enjoyed a number of quietly corrupt elections, decently kept from public view. But the current Supreme Court, in devil-may-care mood, let all sorts of cats out of its bag—such as a total commitment to what the far right euphemistically calls family values. Justice Antonin Scalia—both name and visage reminiscent of a Puccini villain—affirmed family values by not recusing himself from the Bush–Gore case even though his son works for the same law firm that represented Bush before the Court. Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife works for a far-right think tank, the Heritage Foundation, and even as her husband attended gravely to arguments, she was vetting candidates for office in the Bush administration.
Elsewhere, George W. Bush, son of a failed Republican President, was entrusting his endangered Florida vote to the state’s governor, his brother Jeb.
On the other side of family values, the Gore clan has, at times, controlled as many as a half-dozen Southern legislatures. They are also known for their forensic skill, wit, learning—family characteristics the Vice President modestly kept under wraps for fear of frightening the folks at large.
American politics is essentially a family affair, as are most oligarchies. When the father of the Constitution, James Madison, was asked how on earth any business could get done in Congress when the country contained 100 million people whose representatives would number half a thousand, Madison took the line that oligarchy’s iron law always obtains: A few people invariably run the show; and keep it, if they can, in the family.
Finally, those founders, to whom we like to advert, had such a fear and loathing of democracy that they invented the Electoral College so that the popular voice of the people could be throttled, much as the Supreme Court throttled the Floridians on December 12. We were to be neither a democracy, subject to majoritarian tyranny, nor a dictatorship, subject to Caesarean folly.
Another cat let out of the bag is the Supreme Court’s dedication to the 1 percent that own the country. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor couldn’t for the life of her see why anyone would find the Palm Beach butterfly ballot puzzling. The subtext here was, as it is so often with us, race. More votes were invalidated by aged Votomatic machines in black districts than in white. This made crucial the uncounted ten thousand Miami-Dade ballots that recorded no presidential vote. Hence the speed with which the Bush campaign, loyally aided and abetted by a 5-to-4 majority of the Supreme Court, invented a series of delays to keep those votes from ever being counted because, if they were, Gore would have won the election. Indeed he did win the election until the Court, through ever-more-brazen stays and remands, with an eye on that clock ever ticking, delayed matters until, practically speaking, in the eyes of the five, if not all of the four, there was no longer time to count, the object of an exercise that had sent trucks filled with a million ballots from one dusty Florida city to the next, to be kept uncounted.
During this slow-paced comedy, there was one riveting moment of truth that will remain with us long after G. W. Bush has joined the lengthening line of twilight Presidents in limbo. On the Wednesday before the Thursday when we gave thanks for being the nation once hailed as the greatest by Agnew, the canvassing board in Dade County was, on the orders of the Florida Supreme Court, again counting ballots when an organized crowd stormed into the county building, intimidating the counters and refusing to give their names to officials. The Miami Herald, a respectable paper, after examining various voting trends, etc., concluded that Gore had actually carried Florida by twenty-three thousand votes. The Herald plans to examine those much-traveled ballots under Florida’s “sunshine” law. I suspect that the ballots and their chads will be found missing.
Thanksgiving came and went. The ballots toured up and down the Florida freeways. Gore was accused of trying to steal an election that he had won. The black population was now aware that, yet again, it had not been taken into account. There had been riots. Under Florida law, anyone with a criminal record—having been convicted of a felony—loses all civil rights. Thousands of blacks were so accused and denied the vote; yet most so listed were not felons or were guilty only of misdemeanors. In any case, the calculated delays persuaded two of the four dissenting judges that there was no time left to count.
Justice John Paul Stevens, a conservative whose principal interest seems to be conserving our constitutional liberties rather than the privileges of corporate America, noted in his dissent: “One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.”
What will the next four years bring? With luck, total gridlock. The two houses of Congress are evenly split. Presidential adventurism will be at a minimum. With bad luck (and adventures), Chancellor Cheney will rule. A former Secretary of Defense, he has said that too little money now goes to the Pentagon even though last year it received 51 percent of the discretionary budget. Expect a small war or two in order to keep military appropriations flowing. There will also be tax relief for the very rich. But bad scenario or good scenario, we shall see very little of the charmingly simian George W. Bush. The military—Cheney, Powell, et al.—will be calling the tune, and the whole nation will be on constant alert, for, James Baker has already warned us, Terrorism is everywhere on the march. We cannot be too vigilant. Welcome to Asuncion. Yes! We have no bananas.
January 8/15, 2001
GOAT SONG: UNANSWERED QUESTIONS—BEFORE, DURING, AFTER 9/11
On August 24, 1814, things looked very dark for freedom’s land. That was the day the British captured Washington, D.C., and set fire to the Capitol and White House. President Madison took refuge in the nearby Virginia woods, where he waited patiently for the notoriously short attention span of the Brits to kick in, which it did. They moved on and what might have been a Day of Utter Darkness turned out to be something of a bonanza for the D.C. building trades and upmarket realtors.
One hundred and eighty-seven years later—and one year after 9/11, we still don’t know by whom we were struck that Tuesday, or for what true purpose. But it is does seem fairly plain to many civil libertarians that 9/11 put paid not only to our fragile Bill of Rights, but also to our once-envied republican system of government which had abruptly taken a mortal blow the previous year, when the Supreme Court did a little dance in 5-4 time and replaced an elected president with the oil-and-gas Cheney-Bush junta.
Of course, for some years, it has been no secret that Corporate America openly and generously pays for our presidential elections (Bush-Gore in 2000 cost them $3 billion); they also own the Media, which is kept well-nourished by disinformation from executive-controlled secret agencies like the CIA. Media also daily assures us that since we are the most envied and admired people on earth, everyone else on earth is eager to immigrate to the U.S. so that he can share in the greatest pie ever baked by arbitragers. Meanwhile, our more and more unaccountable government is pursuing all sorts of games around the world that we the spear carriers (formerly the people) will never learn of. Even so, in the last year, with help from foreign friends, we are getting some answers to the question: Why weren’t we warned in advance of 9/11? Apparently, we were warned, repeatedly; for the better part of a year, we were told that there would be unfriendly visitors to our skies sometime in September ‘01, but the Cheney-Bush junta neither informed us nor protected us despite Mayday warnings from Presidents Putin and Mubarak, from Mossad, and even from elements of our long-suffering FBI. A joint panel of Congressional intelligence committees is currently reporting (September 19, 2002, New York Times) that as early as 1996, Pakistani terrorist Abdul Hakim Murad confessed to federal agents that he was “learning to fly an aircraft in order to crash a plane into CIA HQ.”
Only CIA Director George Tenet seemed to take the various threats seriously. In December ’98, he issued “a declaration of war.” So impressed was the FBI by his warnings that as of September 10, 2001, “the FBI still had only one analyst assigned full time to al Qa’eda.”
From a briefing prepared for the junta at the beginning of July 2001: “Based on a review of all sources reporting over the last five months, we believe that UBL will launch a significant terrorist attack against U.S. and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning.” And so it came to pass; yet, the National Security Advisor says she never suspected that hijackings meant anything but the kidnapping of planes.
Happily, somewhere over the Beltway, there is Europe—recently declared anti-Semitic by the junta’s Media because most of Europe wants no war with Iraq and the junta does for reasons we may now begin to understand, thanks to European and Asian investigators with their relatively free media.
On the subject “How and Why America Was Attacked September 11, 2001,” the best, most balanced report, thus far, is by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed. . . . Yes, yes, I know he is one of Them. But they often know things that we don’t—particularly about what we are up to. A political scientist, Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, “a think tank dedicated to the promotion of human rights, justice and peace” in Brighton, England. The book, The War on Freedom, has just been published in the USA by a small but reputable homeland publisher.
Ahmed provides a background for our ongoing war against Afghanistan, a view that in no way coincides with what the junta has told us. He has drawn on many sources, most tellingly on American whistle-blowers who are beginning to come forth and bear witness—like those FBI agents who warned their superiors that al Qa’eda was planning a kamikaze strike against New York and Washington, only to be told that if they went public with these warnings, they would suffer under the National Security Act. Lately, several of these agents have engaged David P. Schippers, chief investigative counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, to represent them in court if he is not elsewhere. As many Americans will recall, the majestic Schippers managed the successful impeachment of President Clinton in the House of Representatives. He may, if the Iraqi adventure should go wrong, be obliged to perform the same high service for George W. Bush—the junta’s cheerleader—who allowed the American people to go unwarned about an imminent attack upon two of our cities in anticipation of a planned strike by the United States against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Guardian (UK, September 26, 2001) reported that in July 2001, pre–9/11, a group of interested parties met in a Berlin hotel to listen to a former State Department official, Lee Coldren, as he passed on a message from the Bush administration that “. . . the United States was so disgusted with the Taliban that they might be considering some military action . . . the chilling quality of this private warning was that it came—according to one of those present, the Pakistani diplomat Niaz Naik—accompanied by specific details of how Bush would succeed. . . .” Four days earlier, the Guardian had reported that “Osama bin Laden and the Taliban received threats of possible American military strikes against them two months before the terrorist assaults on New York and Washington . . . [which] raises the possibility that bin Laden . . . was launching a pre-emptive strike in response to what he saw as US threats.” A replay of the “day of infamy” in the Pacific sixty-two years earlier?
Two days before September 11, Bush was presented with a draft of a National Security Presidential Directive outlining a global campaign of military, diplomatic and intelligence action targeting al Qa’eda, buttressed by the threat of war. According to NBC News: “President Bush was expected to sign detailed plans for a worldwide war against al Qa’eda . . . but did not have the chance before the terrorist attacks. . . .” The directive, as described to NBC News, was essentially the same war plan as the one put into action after September 11. “The administration most likely was able to respond so quickly . . . because it simply had to pull the plans ‘off the shelf.’”
Finally, BBC News, September 18, 2001: “Niaz Naik, a former Pakistan Foreign Secretary, was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October.” It was Naik’s view that Washington would not drop its war for Afghanistan even if bin Laden were to be surrendered immediately by the Taliban.”
Was Afghanistan then turned to rubble in order to avenge the three thousand Americans slaughtered by Osama? Hardly. The junta is convinced that Americans are so simple minded that they can deal with no scenario more complex than the venerable lone, crazed killer (this time with zombie helpers) who does evil just for the fun of it ’cause he hates us, ’cause we’re rich ’n’ free ’n’ he’s not. The unlovely Osama was chosen on aesthetic grounds to be the frightening logo for our long contemplated invasion and conquest of Afghanistan, planning for which had been “contingency” some years before 9/11 and, again, from December 20, 2000, when Clinton’s outgoing team devised a plan to strike at Osama and al Qa’eda in retaliation for their assault on the battleship Cole. Clinton’s National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, personally briefed his successor, Condoleezza Rice, on the plan, but the lady, still very much in her role as a director of Chevron-Texaco, with special duties regarding Pakistan and Uzbekistan, now denies, in the best junta tradition, any briefing by her predecessor in the most important federal job that has to do with the nation’s security. A year and a half later (August 12, 2002), fearless Time magazine reported this odd memory lapse.
Osama, if it was he and not a nation, simply provided the necessary shock to put in train a war of conquest. But conquest of what? What is there in dismal dry sandy Afghanistan worth conquering? Zbigniew Brzezinski tells us exactly what in a 1997 Council on Foreign Relations study called The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives.
The Polish-born Brzezinski was the hawkish National Security Advisor to President Carter. In The Grand Chessboard, Brzezinski gives a little history lesson. “Ever since the continents started interacting politically, some five hundred years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power.” Eurasia is all the territory east of Germany. This means Russia, the Mideast, China, and parts of India. Brzezinski acknowledges that Russia and China, bordering oil-rich central Asia, are the two main powers threatening American hegemony in that area.
He takes it for granted that the U.S. must exert control over the former soviet republics of Central Asia, known to those who love them as “the Stans”: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikstan, and Kyrgyzstan, all “of importance from the standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at least three of their most immediate and most powerful neighbors—Russia, Turkey and Iran, with China signaling.” Brzezinski notes how the world’s energy consumption keeps increasing; hence, who controls Caspian oil/gas will control the world economy. Brzezinski then, reflexively, goes into the standard American rationalization for empire. We want nothing, ever, for ourselves, only to keep bad people from getting good things with which to hurt good people. “It follows that America’s primary interest is to help ensure that no single [other] power comes to control this geopolitical space and that the global community has unhindered financial and economic access to it.”
Brzezinski is quite aware that American leaders are wonderfully ignorant of history and geography so he really lays it on, stopping just short of invoking politically incorrect “manifest destiny.” He reminds the Council just how big Eurasia is: 75 percent of the world’s population is Eurasian. If I’ve done the math right, that means we’ve only got control, to date, of a mere 25 percent of the world’s folks. More! “Eurasia accounts for 60% of the world’s GNP and three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.”
Brzezinski’s master plan for “our” globe has obviously been accepted by the Cheney-Bush junta. Corporate America, long overexcited by Eurasian mineral wealth, has been aboard from the beginning.
- On Sale
- Jul 21, 2009
- Page Count
- 176 pages
- Bold Type Books