Thursday, March 23, 2006

PRES. BUSH, GIVING A SPEECH in Wheeling, West Virginia:

The enemy, a group of killers, struck us on September the 11th, 2001. They declared war on the United States of America. And I want to share some lessons about what took place on that day. First of all, I knew that the farther we got away from September the 11th, 2001, the more likely it would be that some would forget the lessons of that day. And that's okay. That's okay, because the job of those of us who have been entrusted to protect you and defend you is really to do so in such a way that you feel comfortable about going about your life, see. And it's fine that people forget the lessons. But one of my jobs is to constantly remind people of the lessons.

The first lesson is, is that oceans can no longer protect us. You know, when I was coming up in the '50s in Midland, Texas, it seemed like we were pretty safe. In the '60s it seemed like we were safe. In other words, conflicts were happening overseas, but we were in pretty good shape here at home. And all that was shattered on that day when cold-blooded killers hijacked airplanes, flew them into buildings and the Pentagon, and killed 3,000 of our citizens. In other words, they declared war, and we have got to take their declaration of war seriously. The most important responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief and those who wear the uniform and those who are elected to public office is to defend the citizens of this country. That is our most vital and important responsibility. I have never forgotten that, from September the 11th on. It's just been a part of my daily existence.

Demagogue, a blog that I came across at Daou Report, wonders if Pres. Bush was sleeping through the Cold War:

Uh, is it possible that Bush:

a) never saw one of those designated fallout shelter signs that were posted on the facades of thousands of buildings across America in the 1950s and '60s?

b) has forgotten completely about the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962?

c) has never heard the musical jingle "Duck and Cover," produced by the U.S. government and aimed at American children?

d) is unaware of why treaties such as SALT and START were negotiated?

e) believes the Cold War pitted Coke against Pepsi?

f) all of the above

Just wondering.

Excellent questions; I have another one: Does Pres. Bush see any connection between those "conflicts happening overseas" and U.S. foreign policy over the past 60 years? Of course, this is a rhetorical question, because clearly Pres. Bush thinks that "conflicts overseas" and U.S. foreign policy since World War II exist on two separate planes that never intersect.

In the real world, however, no nation or people can isolate itself from the complex ways its policies and actions affect, and are affected by, the rest of the world -- regardless of how isolated or separate that nation or people may be in a geographic sense.

The truth is that the seeds of Islamic religious fundamentalism were planted, by successive U.S. administrations, starting back in those very 1950s that Pres. Bush remembers as being so safe and uneventful.

This, in fact, is the thesis of All the Shah's Men, Stephen Kinzer's 2003 book about the 1953 CIA-engineered coup that toppled Iran's immensely popular and democratically elected leader, Mohammad Mossadegh; and returned Mohammad Reza Shah to his throne. The subsequent 25 years of brutally repressive rule led to the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, wherein lie the roots of modern Middle East terrorism.

Before Operation Ajax -- which is what the CIA called the highly classsified 1953 coup -- the United States was greatly admired and respected by Iranians and others in that region. It was the British who were viewed as imperialists and colonizers; Americans were almost universally liked and even loved, as the country that saved the world from fascism. As a brand name, "the United States" had instant recognition as the country that supported other people's struggles for freedom all over the world.

All that ended in 1953.

I recently read Kinzer's book; and was particularly struck by this passage, which comes near the end:

With their devotion to radical Islam and their eagerness to embrace even the most horrific kinds of violence, Iran's revolutionary leaders became heroes to fanatics in many countries. Among those who were inspired by their example were Afghans who founded the Taliban, led it to power in Kabul, and gave Osama bin-Laden the base from which he launched devastating terror attacks. It is not far-fetched to draw a line from Operation Ajax through the Shah's repressive regime and the Islamic Revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York.

The world has paid a heavy price for the lack of democracy in most of the Middle East. Operation Ajax taught tyrants and aspiring tyrants there that the world's most powerful governments were willing to tolerate limitless oppression as long as oppressive regimes were friendly to the West and to Western oil companies. That helped tilt the political balance in a vast region away from freedom and toward dictatorship.

Unfortunately, and to the immense harm of this country, these are dots that Pres. Bush simply lacks the mental capacity or the imagination to connect.

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