The Women Like This War
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Monday 12 May 2003
"We re proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who s physical, who s not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who s president. Women like a guy who s president. Check it out. The women like this war."
- Chris Matthews, 'Hardball' on MSNBC, 05/01/03
The front page of the May 11 Sunday edition of the Boston Herald carried the headline, "Prop. 2 Override Rampage." The story described towns and cities all across Massachusetts gearing up to watch the local aid they depend on for basic services get massacred. The voters of these towns face a 'Proposition 2' vote; Proposition 2, according to the Herald, "caps annual property-tax increases unless voters agree to pay more either through an override, which permanently raises taxes, or through a debt exclusion, which raises taxes for a set period to fund a specific project." In layman's terms, this means that Massachusetts property owners must vote for a massive hike in property taxes. If they don't and they may not, after having absorbed many financial beatings from this economic downturn already - thousands of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other municipal employees will be out of work.
This kind of shortfall and crisis is happening in all 50 states.
Yet as the nation goes slowly broke, we can still enjoy our breads and circuses. Entertaining the masses is a requirement of any empire that would neglect its people in order to augment its military prowess. The Roman Emperor Commodus battled gladiators in the Coliseum to provide a spectacle that obscured, to a degree, the inevitable decline of the empire. Our spectacle came last week when George W. Bush strutted out of the cockpit of a combat jet adorned in the raiment of a warrior/king. This was the culmination of months of propaganda work the WMD threat, the Osama link, the 'liberation' of the Iraqi people that has yet to produce a single thing it promised beyond the fact of war itself. Over one hundred American soldiers, and untold thousands of Iraqi civilians, are now dead. It seems for all the world that the war in Iraq was fought not to free people, or to destroy terrorism, or to annihilate dangerous weapons. It was done to provide George W. Bush with footage for his 2004 "Runnin' on 9-11" Presidential campaign commercials.
Senator Fritz Hollings summed up best the absurdity of it all at the South Carolina Jefferson-Jackson Dinner: "I saw President Bush on that aircraft carrier in the Pacific yesterday. Incidentally, that's the closest he's ever got to the war in Vietnam."
Of course the hot pics of the Prez with his package pooched out weren't the only reasons for the war. Look at the numbers.
Dick Cheney's Halliburton Corp. is pulling fistfuls of cash out of Iraq, as is Halliburton subsidiary Kellog Brown & Root. Halliburton still pays Dick Cheney $1 million a year in what they call "deferred compensation." Where I come from, we call that a salary, and a damned good one.
In February, a month before the Iraq war, former chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board Richard Perle received a top-secret government briefing about the coming conflict in that region, and about rising tensions with North Korea. Three weeks later, Perle spoke at an investment seminar for Goldman Sachs. His talk was entitled Implications of an Imminent War: Iraq Now. North Korea Next? In essence, he used classified information to help investors profit from the conflict. Perle lost his chairmanship of the Board because he was consulting, while holding his position at the Pentagon, a major multinational telecommunications corporation that was seeking Pentagon approval to sell their wares in Asia.
Then, of course, there is former CIA Director James Woolsey, fellow member of the Defense Policy Board with Richard Perle. Woolsey spent the last six months of his life scaring the cheese out of the American public on national television with incredible warnings about the terror capabilities of Iraq. One of his more ominous quips from CNN: "I would be more worried over the mid to long term about biological weapons there have been stories that Saddam has been working on genetically modifying some of these biological agents, making anthrax resistant to vaccines or antibiotics."
Funny how they haven't been able to find even the dumb old plain anthrax, and never mind Saddam's super-anthrax. Could it be that Woolsey, former Director of the CIA, was grossly overstating the potential terrorism threat represented by Iraq for purely personal gain? Mr. Woolsey is a director at Paladin Capital, formed three months after September 11 for one reason alone to reap profit from the defense and intelligence contracts that were blizzarding out of the Defense Department as the War on Terror got vamped up. Paladin has amassed $300 million from investors because it sees the US government spending some $60 billion on the anti-terrorism programs it sells, and sees private corporations spending twice that amount. Woolsey has been very busy frightening the American people about the terrorist threat, and is now prepared to profit wildly from those fears.
Woolsey is also a member of the Project for the New American Century. The names Cheney and Perle are on the membership rolls next to his. You can read all about the Project here.
It seems that while the states are going broke, a small cadre of White House insiders are making more money than they could spend in ten lifetimes. Fancy that. Did I mention that Bush's dad works for the Carlyle Group? Did I mention that the Carlyle Group owns United Defense, a weapons manufacturer that is making billions from selling arms and fighting vehicles to the Defense Department?
Writing that took 884 words. How many scandals, catastrophes and outright crimes were listed in that short span? I count 18, but that may be a conservative number.
Chris Matthews has it right, to a point. Americans do love a little swagger. They hate, however, being lied to. The lies exist here on many levels. The primary, of course, being the actions of the fellows currently in control. The only reason these boys have been able to maintain control, though, is because of men like Matthews and the others who share his 'profession.' The American television media establishment has hauled more water in the last year than Gunga Din for the Bush administration, and this shows no sign of abating. That is the only thing holding this administration together. Cheney, Perle, Woolsey and Bush don't have to worry about being wrong and crooked. They know they won't get called on it in places where the public might hear about it.
That's it. That's all of it.
Thanks to writer Max Black for digging out that Matthews quote.