• The Emperor's Latest Tour

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    It’s
    unfortunate that Bush doesn’t understand what is happening in the
    world he so arrogantly believes he owns. The European trip he’s
    on now is a barely concealed attempt to strong-arm support for his
    upcoming invasion of Iran. An invasion, according to former UNSCOM
    weapons inspector Scott Ritter, that Bush has already approved,
    and is slated for June 2005.

    Although
    the mainstream media is steadfastly refusing to investigate or report
    this startling news, Ritter, speaking on Feb. 19 to a packed house
    in the Capitol Theater in Olympia, Wash., maintains that “an official
    involved in the manipulation” was his source. In a release from
    United for Peace of Pierce County, Wash., reporter Mark Jensen
    wrote
    that Ritter said this announcement would “soon be reported by a
    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist in a major metropolitan magazine
    – an obvious allusion to The New Yorker reporter Seymour
    Hersh.”

    For
    those who expect the media to interview Ritter – the man at the
    top of their “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” list for shouting until he
    was hoarse before, during and after the war that there were no weapons
    of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq – it could be a long wait. However,
    it’s been scarcely a month since Hersh laid
    out
    the entire nasty scenario in his piece, “The Coming Wars,”
    in the January 24-31 issue of The New Yorker.

    Hersh
    was told by a former high-level intelligence official, “This is
    a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign … Next,
    we’re going to have the Iranian campaign,” the official said. “We’ve
    declared war and the bad guys wherever they are, are the enemy.
    This is the last hurrah – we’ve got four years, and want to come
    out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.”

    According
    to Hersh, a government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon
    told him that “in order to destroy as much of the military infrastructure
    as possible,” the administration “has been conducting secret reconnaissance
    missions inside Iran since at least last summer.”

    Since
    Bush’s hawkish handlers refuse to allow him to negotiate, the plan,
    Hersh says, is to “act” once it becomes clear that the European-negotiated
    approach cannot succeed. To act? What does “to act” mean?
    Does Bush actually believe this is some deranged Punch and Judy
    puppet show; that once the curtain falls on his last hurrah, the
    hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions in four years – of maimed
    and dead will rise up, brush themselves off and go out for coffee?

    The
    point, then, of Bush’s trip across the pond this week must be to
    admonish the doddering members of “old Europe” to get their act
    together; to suck it up and admit they were wrong about the Iraq
    war, and fall in behind him as he heads for Iran – because he’s
    moving out and he’s the leader.

    And,
    they’ve been warned. Bush’s visit follows Secretary of State Condi
    Rice’s whirlwind trip, wherein she swept through Europe lecturing,
    scolding and warning European leaders if they don’t toe the U.S.
    line, they’re in danger of being put back into “time out” or worse
    because, as they have all been reminded ad infinitum, all options
    are on the table.

    About
    the only thing both Bush and Rice are proving is that they don’t
    have a clue. They seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that
    the trans-Atlantic alliance is at the breaking point. Although the
    Christian Science Monitor is reporting that NATO Secretary-General
    Jaap de Hoop Scheffer “is set to announce” that the alliance’s 26
    members are signed on to helping in Iraq in some capacity,” William
    Pfaff writes
    in the International Herald Tribune that the alliance’s George
    Robertson says, “NATO will provide no further help to the United
    States in Iraq – meaning that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s
    principal European members refuse to let the alliance do so.”

    Pfaff
    said he has recently attended several European conferences of political
    specialists, policy analysts, and past and present officials from
    both sides of the Atlantic who were concerned about current affairs
    as well as the future. He said, “In every case, wherever it started,
    discussion quickly turned into a debate about how to cope with the
    Bush administration’s new America, seen as a disturber of world
    peace and a risk to the security even of its allies.”

    According
    to Pfaff, the conferences were attended by Washington neo-conservative
    officials whose speeches were celebrations of American power and
    victory in Iraq. He said these officials were “implicitly condescending,”
    and they said that Europe needed to “grow up” and face the terrorism
    threat.” They demanded apologies from the Europeans for having failed
    to support the United States. “They still were saying that if you
    didn’t agree, you are “irrelevant,” Pfaff said.

    In
    his wonderful 1941 novel, H.
    M Pulham, Esquire
    , John P. Marquand gives us Bojo Brown,
    a “Dubya” character who has thrown his weight around since he was
    a little schoolyard bully who possessed “qualities of leadership.”
    The protagonist, Henry Pulham, is completely under the sway of an
    adult Bojo, unchanged since his boys’ school days, but Pulham’s
    friend Bill King isn’t fooled for a minute.

    “Some
    day,” King said, “someone is going to stop that bastard. He ought
    to get a kick in the pants.”

    Pulham
    said, “As a matter of fact, there are lots of nice things about
    Bojo.”

    “The
    trouble with you is,” King said, “you always play the game.”

    “Well,
    what’s wrong with playing the game?” Pulham asked.

    “Because
    you’re old enough not to be playing it,” King said. “He’s a bastard.
    And he’s never had a kick in the pants.”

    The
    US media is out there, playing the game. Each word “Bojo” Bush utters
    is cast before the European audience like pearls before so many
    swine. The media boasts that Bush plans to “go beyond” the European
    leaders and seize the opportunity to chat with the “peoples” of
    Europe. The thousands of protesters are “disappeared” as if they
    didn’t exist, and there is no mention of the iron bubble surrounding
    Bush as he rolls around in what is reported to be an unprecedented
    security lockdown. How do you talk to a guy in a bubble while a
    sniper on a rooftop has you in his sights and you’re being shackled
    and pepper-sprayed?

    If
    the crude and ill-mannered Bush is aware of the strain he has caused
    throughout Europe; if he cares that the “peoples” of every corner
    of the world see him not only as a danger, but as a threat to their
    very survival, it doesn’t seem to matter to him or to his pantleg-humping
    media courtiers. Bush continues to slyly warn Iran, Syria, North
    Korea, China, et al., that some of the options on his table could
    be for them if they don’t behave. And, later this week when he meets
    Vladimir “You call me President Bush and I’ll call you Pootie-Poot”
    Putin, Bush will put him on notice that he will not tolerate any
    further backsliding in Russia’s democratic reforms.

    But,
    at least Bush seems to be enhanced with France. When asked if he
    would invite French President Jacques Chirac to his Texas ranch,
    he joked, “I’m looking for a good cowboy.”

    The
    Bush/Chirac handshake was shown so many times from so many angles
    on CNN that it’s surprising someone didn’t suggest the two leaders
    get a room. Bush was so eager to prove he was ready to forgive Chirac
    for his past sins, he pointed to Chirac and blurted out to the media,
    “I’m having dinner with him. The fact that he’s the first man I’ve
    eaten with in Europe since I was re-elected oughta tell you somethin’…”

    Yeah.
    It tells me that the tiger George Bush is riding is getting hungrier
    by the minute. No way I’m calling the President a bastard, but if
    he somehow manages to dismount – and survive – at the
    very least, he ought to get a kick in the pants.

    February
    23, 2005

    Sheila
    Samples [send her mail]
    is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former civilian US Army Public
    Information Officer.

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