(Copyright 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)

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Subject: Article: Delusions of Power
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2003 09:24:15 -0500 (EST)
From: "venire"

April 30, 2003 

Hypocrisy & Apple Pie



Richard Perle is at ease with neo-imperial swagger.

At the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday night, the Pentagon's Prince of Darkness lectured Hans Blix as if he were a colonial subject, instructing him on why an invasion of Iraq had been justified even though no weapons of mass destruction had yet been found.

Asked afterward how Mr. Blix had reacted, Mr. Perle replied merrily: "He's a Swedish disarmament lawyer. He's used to a lot of abuse."

When one partygoer told Mr. Perle that she would miss the buzzy, standing-room-only "black coffee briefings" on Iraq held by hard-liners at the American Enterprise Institute, he suggested the neo-cons might hold another round.

"We'll have green tea briefings on North Korea," he said slyly.

On Fox News, Bill Kristol spoke up for a more brazen imperial attitude. "We need to err on the side of being strong," he said.

"And if people want to say we're an imperial power, fine. If three years from now, we have beaten back these threats and have a decent regime there, it'll be worth it." 

But imperial flair is rare. America is a furtive empire, afraid to raise its flag or linger too long or even call things by their real names. The U.S. is having a hard time figuring out how to wield its colonial power, how to balance collegiality with coercion, how to savor the fruits of imperialism without acknowledging its imperialist hubris.

When Kofi Annan called the Americans in Iraq an "occupying power" last week, Bush officials freaked. Maybe they would have preferred Honored Guests.

The Pentagon once more outgunned the State Department this week, changing the name of a new governing body of Iraqis from "interim authority" to "transitional government" to signal that the U.S. would leave quickly and give its Armani-clad puppet, Ahmad Chalabi, an advantage. But it doesn't matter what euphemistic name is used; if there are too many militant Shiite clerics involved, Rummy, the real authority, will tell them to take their camels and vamoose.

"America is the empire that dare not speak its name," Niall Ferguson, the Oxford professor who wrote "Empire," told a crowd at the Council on Foreign Relations here on Monday. He believes that America is so invested in its "creation myth," breaking away from a wicked empire, that Americans will always be self-deceiving " and even self-defeating " imperialists.

"The great thing about the American empire is that so many Americans disbelieve in its existence," he said. "Ever since the annexation of Texas and invasion of the Philippines, the U.S. has systematically pursued an imperial policy.

"It's simply a suspension of disbelief by Americans. They think they're so different that when they have bases in foreign territories, it's not an empire. When they invade sovereign territory, it's not an empire."

Asked in an interview about Viceroy Jay Garner's promise that U.S. military overlords would "leave fairly rapidly," Mr. Ferguson replied: "I'm hoping he's lying. Successful empires must be based on hypocrisy. The Americans can say they're doing things in the name of freedom, liberty and apple pie. But they must build a civil society and revive the economy before they have elections.

"From 1882 until 1922, the British promised the international community 66 times that they would leave Egypt, but they never did. If they leave Iraq to its own devices, the whole thing will blow up."

Afghanistan offers cautionary lessons. It was the abandonment by the U.S. after Afghanistan's war in 1989 with the Soviet Union that stoked the fury of Al Qaeda. The regime of the American puppet Hamid Karzai is still perilously fragile.

As Carlotta Gall wrote in The Times last weekend, after two U.S. soldiers were killed by Afghan rebels: "In a very real sense the war here has not ended. . . . Nearly every day, there are killings, explosions, shootings and targeted attacks on foreign aid workers, Afghan officials and American forces, as well as continuing feuding between warlords."

Exiled Taliban leaders have called for a holy war against the "occupying forces." The religious police are once more harassing and beating women over dress and behavior, and schools that take little girls are being attacked and threatened.

Until we can get democracy stabilized in our new colonies, Mr. Ferguson offers two words of advice: "Better puppets."  

              Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company  ##

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Subject: Article: The Iceman Cometh
Date: Sun, 04 May 2003 09:24:15 -0500 (EST)
From: "venire"

May 4, 2003

The Iceman Cometh


LONG BEACH, Calif. " The tail hook caught the last cable, jerking the fighter jet from 150 m.p.h. to zero in two seconds.

Out bounded the cocky, rule-breaking, daredevil flyboy, a man navigating the Highway to the Danger Zone, out along the edges where he was born to be, the further on the edge, the hotter the intensity.

He flashed that famous all-American grin as he swaggered around the deck of the aircraft carrier in his olive flight suit, ejection harness between his legs, helmet tucked under his arm, awestruck crew crowding around. Maverick was back, cooler and hotter than ever, throttling to the max with joystick politics. Compared to Karl Rove's "revvin' up your engine" myth-making cinematic style, Jerry Bruckheimer's movies look like "Lizzie McGuire."

This time Maverick didn't just nail a few bogeys and do a 4G inverted dive with a MIG-28 at a range of two meters. This time the Top Gun wasted a couple of nasty regimes, and promised this was just the beginning. Mav swaggered across the deck to high-five his old gang: his wise flight instructor, Viper; his amiable sidekick, Goose; his chiseled rival, Iceman.

MAVERICK: I feel the need . . .

GOOSE: The need for speed!

ICEMAN: You're really a cowboy.

MAVERICK: What's your problem?

ICEMAN: Your ego's writing checks your body can't cash. You didn't need to take all that water survival training in the White House swimming pool. The Abraham Lincoln was practically docked, only 30 miles off shore, after 10 months at sea. They had to steer it away from land for you. If you'd waited a few hours, you could've just walked aboard. You and Rove are making a gorgeous campaign video on the Pacific to cast you as the warrior president for 2004, but back on shore, things are ugly. The California economy's bleeding, even worse than other states'. When you took office, the unemployment rate in San Jose was 1.7 percent; by February of this year, it had risen to 8.5 percent. Your motorcade didn't bother to stop in the depressed high-tech corridor in Silicon Valley. Every time you cut taxes and raise deficits while you're roaring ahead with a pre-emptive military policy, you're unsafe. National unemployment goes up to 6 percent and you just hammer Congress to pass your tax cut. The only guys sure about their jobs these days are defense contractors connected to Republicans and the Carlyle Group, which owns half of the defense plant you visited here. You're dangerous.

MAVERICK: That's right, Iceman. I am dangerous.

ICEMAN: You can fly, Maverick. But you, Cheney and Rummy are strutting around on a victory tour when you haven't found Osama or Saddam or WMD; you haven't figured out how you're going to stop tribal warfare and religious fanaticism and dangerous skirmishes with our soldiers; you don't yet know how to put Afghanistan and Iraq back together so that a lot of people over there don't hate us. And why can't you stop saying that getting rid of Saddam removed "an ally" of Al Qaeda and was payback for 9/11?

You know we just needed to jump somebody in that part of the world.

MAVERICK: That part of the world is what I call a target rich environment, sorta like a Democratic debate. Hey, Miss Iceman, why don't you head to the Ladies Room? John Kerry and John Edwards are already there, fixin' their hair all pretty-like. Howard Dean's with 'em, trying on a dress, and Kucinich is hemming it for him.

VIPER: You're arrogant, son. I like that in a pilot. You're a hell of an instinctive flyer. You're a lot like your old man. He was a natural, heroic son of a gun. I flew with him in his torpedo bomber in '44. Is that why you fly the way you do? Trying to prove something by doing the opposite? He tried to get deficits down. He did it right. And he knew you had to have wingmen among the allies. You can't buzz the tower of the world every time you go up. You can't just jettison the Top Gun global rules of engagement.

MAVERICK: Sure I can. Like greed, aggression is good. Aggression has marked the upward surge of mankind. Aggression breeds patriotism, and patriotism curbs dissent. Aggression has made Democrats cower, the press purr and the world quake. Aggression? you mark my words " will not only save humanity, but it will soon color all the states Republican red. Mission accomplished.  

              Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company  ##

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Subject: Article: Is You Wicked?
Date: Wed, 07 May 2003 09:24:15 -0500 (EST)
From: "venire"

May 7, 2003

Is You Wicked?


James Baker, the former secretary of state who helped make two Bushes president, the first by sniping at Massachusetts, the second by snatching away Florida, is an extremely careful man.

A dignified diplomat with a deep fear of ridicule, Mr. Baker always keeps his suit jacket and his public utterances buttoned.

That is why I was dumbfounded one recent night to see him being interviewed on HBO by a hip-hop guy wearing fatigues, shades, a skullcap and bling-bling and talking like a British gangsta/Rasta rapper.

The young man was asking a skeptical and increasingly impatient Mr. Baker whether it was wise for Iraq and Iran to have such similar names.

YOUNG MAN: Isn't there a real danger that someone give a message over the radio to one of them fighter pilots, saying, `Bomb Ira??' and the geezer doesn't heard it properly and bombs Iran instead of Iraq?

MR. BAKER: No danger.

YOUNG MAN: How does you make countries do stuff you want?

MR. BAKER: Well, the way you deal with countries on foreign policy issues . . . is you deal with carrots and sticks.

YOUNG MAN: But what country is gonna want carrots, even if it's like a million tons of carrots that you're giving over there??

MR. BAKER: Well, carrots " I'm not using the term literally. You might send foreign aid " money, money.

YOUNG MAN: Well, money's better than carrots. Even if a country love carrots and that is, like, their favorite national food, if they get given them??

MR. BAKER: Well, don't get hung up on carrots. That's just a figure of speech.

YOUNG MAN: So would you ever send carrots? You know, is there any situation??

MR. BAKER: No, no.

YOUNG MAN: What about if there was a famine?

MR. BAKER: Carrots, themselves? No.

The interview was a hilarious classic in the seldom-seen subgenre of international relations humor.

Mr. Baker could outfox Al Gore but not Ali G. The 31-year-old British satirist, whose new HBO show has already become a cult favorite among high school and college kids, came to America to do the same sort of interviews he did in England, putting unwitting V.I.P.'s on the spot.

With his white-gangsta-rapper-wannabe persona, Sacha Baron Cohen, a brilliant graduate of Cambridge, sends up the vacuity of the culture in an era when putting people on TV who attract the right demographic is more important than putting people on TV who know what they're talking about.

But the interviews depend on the subject's not recognizing Ali G or even realizing that he's a comedian.

Ali G scammed Mr. Baker and others into granting interviews by sending them flattering letters on fancy stationery from United World Productions, inviting them to be part of a six-part series for Channel 4 on British TV aimed at explaining the U.S. Constitution to young people.

With his crew, Mr. Cohen went into Mr. Baker's conference room in a dark suit and put on his garish Ali G outfit before Mr. Baker came in.

As in England, Mr. Cohen has left a trail of irritated interviewees in his wacky wake.

Marlin Fitzwater had his doubts when Ali G showed up wearing a red jumpsuit and high-tops and asked inane questions. Like Mr. Baker, Mr. Fitzwater figured that Ali G was dressing for his "hippie" audience. But he ended the interview after Ali G asked him whether Hillary Clinton drank "from the fairy cup."

"I said, `You're an idiot,' " Mr. Fitzwater recalled. "I'd never been lied to like that. I was two steps away from calling the sheriff."

Donald Trump, who walked out of an interview when Ali G tried to pitch the idea of a glove to eat ice cream cones with, recalled: "I thought he was seriously retarded. It was a total con job. But my daughter, Ivanka, saw it and thought it was very cool."

James Woolsey was good-natured when Ali G brought up the grassy knoll and asked, "Who shot J. R."" Richard Thornburgh was patient when Ali G misinterpreted the meaning of hung juries. And Brent Scowcroft didn't flinch when Ali G asked him, "Did they ever catch the people who sent Tampax through the mail?"

"It was anthrax," Mr. Scowcroft corrected pleasantly.

Ali G is wicked. And to him, that's a compliment.  

              Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company  ##

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