Thursday, August 21, 2003


The title’s a good question.

Because we have forgotten how to remember, we fail to recognize the deceits of our leaders.

"We come not as conquerors, but as liberators," Bush declared as US forces entered Baghdad.

Imperial epiphanies do not even need to be original.

British Lieutenant-General Stanley Maude said it first in 1917 after the Anglo-Indian Army he commanded had invaded and occupied Iraq. Hoping to persuade Iraqis to “accept foreign occupation while Britain secured the country’s oil,” Gen. Maude proclaimed in Baghdad “Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators.” Years later, the British “liberators” watched stunned as the ground they were standing on crumbled beneath their feet.

After the US war machine was through gorging on Iraq, it was the turn of the oil corporations. Of this lot, one company managed to single itself out for its sheer obscenity, a gigantic but apparently ailing canker that fed on the blighted body of Iraq in order to nourish itself back to health.

Corporate welfare is rarely as ugly as Dick Cheney’s Halliburton Co. which, after suffering a net loss of $498 million in 2002, swung a $26 million profit this year courtesy of the contracts it bagged in Iraq.

God bless America the Bush hooligans cheered. Indeed, echoed an intellectual pipsqueak in Malacañang as she sent off with her kisses a posse of Filipinos to join the US coalition of mercenaries in Baghdad.

"When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson, “I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart."

Abraham Lincoln gave a prescient warning in 1864 that apparently went unheeded. “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country,” said Lincoln. “Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption will follow and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudice of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

What a change it would be if the Arroyo administration paid more attention to the progressive traditions of America instead of fawning over the United States of Big Business.

The great American novelist, John Steinbeck, whose genius lies equally with his works of non-fiction, was once asked which side he was for during the Spanish Civil War. “Your question as to whether I am for Franco is rather insulting,” Steinbeck replied. “I am treasonable enough not to believe in the liberty of a man or a group to exploit, torment, or slaughter other men or groups. I believe in the despotism of human life and happiness against the liberty of money and possessions.”

But these words are of no use to the Arroyo government, which has preferred the perfunctory song and dance mimicking what it thinks is politically fashionable in Washington. Happily blind to the premises and consequences of the Bush cabal’s machinations.

“Homeland security is not a temporary measure for the current crisis, but will become permanent in American life. I think of it as normalcy,” said Dick Cheney on October 25, 2001, just a little over a month after the terrorist attacks on the US.

Well, Time Magazine’s Man of the Year in 1938 used the burning of the Reichstag as a ruse to convince the German President Paul von Hindenberg to sign an emergency decree suspending the basic rights of German citizens – a suspension which lasted until the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.

History tends to heave pins that head straight for the bubbles of the supposedly noble and valorous.

Wasn’t it George W. Bush, Jr. who said that "An evil exists that threatens every man, woman and child of this great nation. We must take steps to insure our domestic security and protect our homeland."

Ha ha.

The quote is actually from Chancellor Adolf Hitler who, in 1933, was providing the rationale for the creation of the Gestapo – for Germany’s “homeland security”.

"To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty,” US Attorney General John Ashcroft recently warned, “my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies."

Excellent form.

Before committing suicide at the Nuremberg Trials, Nazi Reich Marshal Hermann Goering had said “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

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