'American Gone Mad' - a British author's view on the current situation

by Xander 45 Replies latest social current

  • Xander

    Interesting read:

    Subject: America's Madness - John Le Carre

    The United States of America has gone mad
    John le Carré

    America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War. The reaction to 9/11 is beyond anything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for in his nastiest dreams. As in McCarthy times, the freedoms that have made America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded. The combination of compliant US media and vested corporate interests is once more ensuring that a debate that should be ringing out in every town square is confined to the loftier columns of the East Coast press.

    The imminent war was planned years before bin Laden struck, but it was he who made it possible. Without bin Laden, the Bush junta would still be trying to explain such tricky matters as how it came to be elected in the first place; Enron; its shameless favouring of the already-too-rich; its reckless disregard for the world's poor, the ecology and a raft of unilaterally abrogated international treaties. They might also have to be telling us why they support Israel in its continuing disregard for UN resolutions.

    But bin Laden conveniently swept all that under the carpet. The Bushies are riding high. Now 88 per cent of Americans want the war, we are told. The US defence budget has been raised by another $60 billion to around $360 billion. A splendid new generation of nuclear weapons is in the pipeline, so we can all breathe easy. Quite what war 88 per cent of Americans think they are supporting is a lot less clear. A war for how long, please? At what cost in American lives? At what cost to the American taxpayer's pocket? At what cost - because most of those 88 per cent are thoroughly decent and humane people - in Iraqi lives?

    How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America's anger from bin Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations conjuring tricks of history. But they swung it. A recent poll tells us that one in two Americans now believe Saddam was responsible for the attack on the World Trade Centre. But the American public is not merely being misled. It is being browbeaten and kept in a state of ignorance and fear. The carefully orchestrated neurosis should carry Bush and his fellow conspirators nicely into the next election.

    Those who are not with Mr Bush are against him. Worse, they are with the enemy. Which is odd, because I'm dead against Bush, but I would love to see Saddam's downfall - just not on Bush's terms and not by his methods. And not under the banner of such outrageous hypocrisy.

    The religious cant that will send American troops into battle is perhaps the most sickening aspect of this surreal war-to-be. Bush has an arm-lock on God. And God has very particular political opinions. God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America's Middle Eastern policy, and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and d) a terrorist.

    God also has pretty scary connections. In America, where all men are equal in His sight, if not in one another's, the Bush family numbers one President, one ex-President, one ex-head of the CIA, the Governor of Florida and the ex-Governor of Texas.

    Care for a few pointers? George W. Bush, 1978-84: senior executive, Arbusto Energy/Bush Exploration, an oil company; 1986-90: senior executive of the Harken oil company. Dick Cheney, 1995-2000: chief executive of the Halliburton oil company. Condoleezza Rice, 1991-2000: senior executive with the Chevron oil company, which named an oil tanker after her. And so on. But none of these trifling associations affects the integrity of God's work.

    In 1993, while ex-President George Bush was visiting the ever-democratic Kingdom of Kuwait to receive thanks for liberating them, somebody tried to kill him. The CIA believes that "somebody" was Saddam. Hence Bush Jr's cry: "That man tried to kill my Daddy." But it's still not personal, this war. It's still necessary. It's still God's work. It's still about bringing freedom and democracy to oppressed Iraqi people.

    To be a member of the team you must also believe in Absolute Good and Absolute Evil, and Bush, with a lot of help from his friends, family and God, is there to tell us which is which. What Bush won't tell us is the truth about why we're going to war. What is at stake is not an Axis of Evil -- but oil, money and people's lives. Saddam's misfortune is to sit on the second biggest oilfield in the world. Bush wants it, and who helps him get it will receive a piece of the cake. And who doesn't, won't.

    If Saddam didn't have the oil, he could torture his citizens to his heart's content. Other leaders do it every day - think Saudi Arabia, think Pakistan, think Turkey, think Syria, think Egypt.

    Baghdad represents no clear and present danger to its neighbours, and none to the US or Britain. Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, if he's still got them, will be peanuts by comparison with the stuff Israel or America could hurl at him at five minutes' notice. What is at stake is not an imminent military or terrorist threat, but the economic imperative of US growth. What is at stake is America's need to demonstrate its military power to all of us - to Europe and Russia and China, and poor mad little North Korea, as well as the Middle East; to show who rules America at home, and who is to be ruled by America abroad.

    The most charitable interpretation of Tony Blair's part in all this is that he believed that, by riding the tiger, he could steer it. He can't. Instead, he gave it a phoney legitimacy, and a smooth voice. Now I fear, the same tiger has him penned into a corner, and he can't get out.

    It is utterly laughable that, at a time when Blair has talked himself against the ropes, neither of Britain's opposition leaders can lay a glove on him. But that's Britain's tragedy, as it is America's: as our Governments spin, lie and lose their credibility, the electorate simply shrugs and looks the other way. Blair's best chance of personal survival must be that, at the eleventh hour, world protest and an improbably emboldened UN will force Bush to put his gun back in his holster unfired. But what happens when the world's greatest cowboy rides back into town without a tyrant's head to wave at the boys?

    Blair's worst chance is that, with or without the UN, he will drag us into a war that, if the will to negotiate energetically had ever been there, could have been avoided; a war that has been no more democratically debated in Britain than it has in America or at the UN. By doing so, Blair will have set back our relations with Europe and the Middle East for decades to come. He will have helped to provoke unforeseeable retaliation, great domestic unrest, and regional chaos in the Middle East. Welcome to the party of the ethical foreign policy.

    There is a middle way, but it's a tough one: Bush dives in without UN approval and Blair stays on the bank. Goodbye to the special relationship.

    I cringe when I hear my Prime Minister lend his head prefect's sophistries to this colonialist adventure. His very real anxieties about terror are shared by all sane men. What he can't explain is how he reconciles a global assault on al-Qaeda with a territorial assault on Iraq. We are in this war, if it takes place, to secure the fig leaf of our special relationship, to grab our share of the oil pot, and because, after all the public hand-holding in Washington and Camp David, Blair has to show up at the altar.

    "But will we win, Daddy?"

    "Of course, child. It will all be over while you're still in bed."


    "Because otherwise Mr Bush's voters will get terribly impatient and may decide not to vote for him."

    "But will people be killed, Daddy?"

    "Nobody you know, darling. Just foreign people."

    "Can I watch it on television?"

    "Only if Mr Bush says you can."

    "And afterwards, will everything be normal again? Nobody will do anything horrid any more?"

    "Hush child, and go to sleep."

    Last Friday a friend of mine in California drove to his local supermarket with a sticker on his car saying: "Peace is also Patriotic". It was gone by the time he'd finished shopping.
  • Simon

    That's why he's paid to write ... brilliant and elequent.

    What Bush and his cohorts is doing is not in the world's or America's interests other that to satisfy a US lust for oil and to line to pockets of croneys

  • hillary_step
    To be a member of the team you must also believe in Absolute Good and Absolute Evil, and Bush, with a lot of help from his friends, family and God, is there to tell us which is which. What Bush won't tell us is the truth about why we're going to war. What is at stake is not an Axis of Evil -- but oil, money and people's lives. Saddam's misfortune is to sit on the second biggest oilfield in the world. Bush wants it, and who helps him get it will receive a piece of the cake. And who doesn't, won't.

    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier....spokesman. Hats off to Le Carre.


  • borgfree

    Le Carre is not as well thought of in all circles.

    The pen is crueler than the sword. (correspondence between authors John le Carre and Salman Rushdie)(reprinted from The Guardian, November 18-22 1997)

    Issue: Feb, 1998

    From an exchange of letters to the editor by authors Salman Rushdie, John le Carre, and Christopher Hitchens in the British daily The Guardian. Rushdie wrote his initial letter in response to a speech by le Carre, excerpted in the November 15, 1997, issue of The Guardian, in which le Carre complains of having been unfairly labeled an anti-Semite the previous fall in The New York Times Book Review.

    November 18

    John le Carre complains that he has been branded an anti-Semite as a result of a politically correct witch-hunt and declares himself innocent of the charge. It would be easier to sympathize with him had he not been so ready to join in an earlier campaign of vilification against a fellow writer.

    In 1989, during the worst days of the Islamic attack on The Satanic Verses, le Carre wrote an article (also, if memory serves, in The Guardian) in which he eagerly, and rather pompously, joined forces with my assailants.

    It would be gracious if he were to admit that he understands the nature of the Thought Police a little better now that, at least in his own opinion, he's the one in the line of fire.

    Salman Rushdie

    November 19

    Rushdie's way with the truth is as self-serving as ever. I never joined his assailants. Nor did I take the easy path of proclaiming him to be a shining innocent. My position was that there is no law in life or nature that says that great religions may be insulted with impunity.

    I wrote that there is no absolute standard of free speech in any society. I wrote that tolerance does not come at the same time, and in the same form, to all religions and cultures, and that Christian society too, until very recently, defined the limits of freedom by what was sacred. I wrote, and would write again today, that when it came to the further exploitation of Rushdie's work in paperback form, I was more concerned about the girl at Penguin Books who might get her hands blown off in the mailroom than I was about Rushdie's royalties. Anyone who had wished to read the book by then had ample access to it.

    My purpose was not to justify the persecution of Rushdie, which, like any decent person, I deplore, but to sound a less arrogant, less colonialist, and less self-righteous note than we were hearing from the safety of his admirers camp.

    John le Carre

    November 20

    I'm grateful to John le Carre for refreshing all our memories about exactly how pompous an ass he can be. He claims not to have joined in the attack against me but also states that "there is no law in life or nature that says that great religions may be insulted with impunity."

    A cursory examination of this lofty formulation reveals that (1) it takes the philistine, reductionist, radical Islamist line that The Satanic Verses was no more than an "insult," and (2) it suggests that anyone who displeases philistine, reductionist, radical Islamist folk loses his right to live in safety.

    So, if John le Carre upsets Jews, all he needs to do is fill a page of The Guardian with his muddled bombast, but if I am accused of thought crimes, John le Carre will demand that I suppress my paperback edition. He says he is more interested in safeguarding publishing staff than in my royalties. But it is precisely these people, my novel's publishers in some thirty countries, together with the staff of bookshops, who have most passionately supported and defended my right to publish. It is ignoble of le Carre to use them as an argument for censorship when they have so courageously stood up for freedom.

    John le Carre is right to say that free speech isn't an absolute. We have the freedoms we fight for, and we lose those we don't defend. I'd always thought George Smiley knew that. His creator appears to have forgotten.

    Salman Rushdie

    November 20

    John le Carre's conduct in your pages is like nothing so much as that of the man who, having relieved himself in his own hat, makes haste to clamp the brimming chapeau on his head. He used to be evasive and euphemistic about the open solicitation of murder, for bounty, on the grounds that ayatollahs had feelings, too. Now he tells us that his prime concern was the safety of girls in the mailroom. For good measure, he arbitrarily counterposes their security against Rushdie's royalties.

    May we take it, then, that he would have had no objection if The Satanic Verses had been written and published for free and distributed gratis from unattended stalls? This might at least have satisfied those who appear to believe that the defense of free expression should be free of cost and free of risk.

    As it happens, no mailroom girls have been injured in the course of eight years' defiance of the fatwah. And when the nervous book chains of North America briefly did withdraw The Satanic Verses on dubious' grounds of "security," it was their staff unions who protested and who volunteered to stand next to plate-glass windows in upholding the reader's right to buy and peruse any book. In le Carre's eyes, their brave decision was taken in "safety" and was moreover blasphemous toward a great religion! Could we not have been spared this revelation of the contents of his hat--I mean head?

    Christopher Hitchens

    November 21

    Anyone reading yesterday's letters from Salman Rushdie and Christopher Hitchens might well ask himself into whose hands the great cause of free speech has fallen. Whether from Rushdie's throne or Hitchens's gutter, the message is the same: "Our cause is absolute, it brooks no dissent or qualification; whoever questions it is by definition an ignorant, pompous, semi-literate unperson."

    Rushdie sneers at my language and trashes a thoughtful and well-received speech I made to the Anglo-Israel Association, and which The Guardian saw fit to reprint. Hitchens portrays me as a buffoon who pours his own urine on his head. Two rabid ayatollahs could not have done a better job. But will the friendship last? I am amazed that Hitchens has put up with Rushdie's self-canonization for so long. Rushdie, so far as I can make out, does not deny that he insulted a great religion. Instead he accuses me--note his preposterous language for a change--of taking the philistine reductionist radical Islamist line. I didn't know I was so clever.

    What I do know is, Rushdie took on a known enemy and screamed "foul" when it acted in character. The pain he has had to endure is appalling, but it doesn't make a martyr of him, nor--much as he would like it to--does it sweep away all argument about the ambiguities of his participation in his own downfall.

    John le Carre

    November 22

    If he wants to win an argument, John le Carre could begin by learning to read. It's true I did call him a pompous ass, which I thought pretty mild in the circumstances. "Ignorant" and "semi-literate" are dunces' caps he has skillfully fitted on his own head. I wouldn't dream of removing them.

    Le Carre's habit of giving himself good reviews ("my thoughtful and well-received speech") was no doubt developed because, well, somebody has to write them. He accuses me of not having done the same for myself. "Rushdie," says the dunce, "does not deny he insulted a great world religion." I have no intention of repeating yet again my many explications of The Satanic Verses, a novel of which I remain extremely proud. A novel, Mr. le Carre, not a gibe. You know what a novel is, don't you, John?

    Salman Rushdie

    COPYRIGHT 1998 Harper's Magazine Foundation

    COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

  • foreword

    That's all anti-American proganda....none of that is true.....

  • William Penwell
    William Penwell

    Interesting show last night on Frontline if anyone else caught it. It told how the push for American dominance is orchestrated by what the program refereed to as the "Hawks". It goes back to the end of the gulf war when then the Secretary of Defense for Bush Senior, Paul Wolfowitz drafted a policy statement on America's mission in the post-Cold War era. It was called the "Defense Planning Guidance." it is an internal set of military guidelines that typically is prepared every few years by the Defense Department. This policy guidance is distributed to military leaders and civilian Defense Department heads to provide them with a geopolitical framework for assessing their force level and budgetary needs.

    The 46-page classified document circulated for several weeks at senior levels in the Pentagon. But controversy erupted after it was leaked to The New York Times and The Washington Post and the White House ordered then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney to rewrite it.

    The writing sounds to me like an Amway brochure. To "safeguard U.S. interests and promote American values." Bush Junior didn't push the "Hawks" agenda until after 9/11. After which the "Hawks" must have been happy that finally their agenda for the establishment of their plan was being pushed to the forefront. Almost makes one wonder that this could not have been planned any better. Below is exerts from "Defense Planning Guidance".

    · The number one objective of U.S. post-Cold War political and military strategy should be preventing the emergence of a rival superpower.

    "Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia.

    "There are three additional aspects to this objective: First the U.S must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. Second, in the non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. Finally, we must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role."


    · Another major U.S. objective should be to safeguard U.S. interests and promote American values.

    According to the draft document, the U.S. should aim "to address sources of regional conflict and instability in such a way as to promote increasing respect for international law, limit international violence, and encourage the spread of democratic forms of government and open economic systems."

    The draft outlines several scenarios in which U.S. interests could be threatened by regional conflict: "access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil; proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, threats to U.S. citizens from terrorism or regional or local conflict, and threats to U.S. society from narcotics trafficking."

    The draft relies on seven scenarios in potential trouble spots to make its argument -- with the primary case studies being Iraq and North Korea.


    · If necessary, the United States must be prepared to take unilateral action.

    There is no mention in the draft document of taking collective action through the United Nations.

    The document states that coalitions "hold considerable promise for promoting collective action," but it also states the U.S. "should expect future coalitions to be ad hoc assemblies" formed to deal with a particular crisis and which may not outlive the resolution of the crisis.

    The document states that what is most important is "the sense that the world order is ultimately backed by the U.S." and that "the United States should be postured to act independently when collective action cannot be orchestrated" or in a crisis that calls for quick response.

  • expatbrit

    LeCarre's writing is astounding.

    No really. How on Earth did he manage to write such a long article with his tongue so far up Saddam's ass?

    I hope he says hello to Robin Cook while he's up there.


  • DakotaRed

    I guess this proves tha old adage right. Opinions really are like butts, everyone does have them and yes, some stink worse than others.

    Lots of assersions in that article, but no documentation of facts. Saddam must be grining ear to ear.

  • William Penwell
    William Penwell

    I seemed to recall the US administration being embarrassed by unproven facts they were throwing around just a few weeks ago. During war propaganda goes both ways you have to be able to use your intelligence to determine what is truth and what isn't. As far as politicians are concerned I don't trust them as far as I can throw them.


  • Trauma_Hound
    Lots of assersions in that article, but no documentation of facts.

    Sure your not talking about one of your own posts Dakota?

Share this