- One by one, in the dead of night, they push ghastly,
rotting fingers through dank earth in an effort to grasp something solid
and pull themselves up from moldering graves, figures of long-dead flesh,
blank-eyed, capable of no feeling save an unnatural hunger that animates
and drives them shakily forward. They are the gruesome remains of an earlier
time, mysteriously returned to life, once more to exercise their malevolent
influence on the planet. They are the Bush appointments -- Cheney, Rumsfeld,
Reich, and Poindexter.
- And now we have the decayed bulk of Henry Kissinger again
lurching into Washington.
- Kissinger has been reanimated and assigned to study the
causes of what he himself helped create: terrorism.
- Well, you might say, if police can use a skillful, lifelong
criminal to understand a crime, as they often do, why not use a grotesque
monster to understand monstrous events?
- Kissinger will studiously avoid examining the genuine
causes of terror. These are things the United States does not want to hear,
and they are the kinds of things he is an old hand at deftly hiding. The
clue to Mr. Kissinger's actual task is contained in the words of the soulless
husk now inhabiting the White House when he noted that he and the seventy-nine
year-old war criminal and pathological liar "share the same commitments."
- Anyone who has studied Kissinger's career understands
that his total commitment has been to personal advancement, always and
everywhere at the expense of others, and the path of his advancement has
followed the American establishment's insatiable lust to control its external
environment, swarming as it does with the awkward wants and needs of billions
of other human beings.
- He has frequently taken America down to failure and disgrace
-- the greatest example being the disgusting holocaust in Vietnam -- precisely
because the goals of the people he serves are encrusted with ignorance
and arrogance about the world. But if you serve the cause of the American
imperium with adequate zeal, a considerable allowance is made for failure,
and, generally, you still are rewarded.
- You are rewarded because the establishment does not want
to examine its motives, its assumptions, or its ignorance following on
failures. It cares only that its urges are acted upon immediately as they
are made known and with all the force it is possible to summon. Besides,
most failures are of no great consequence since they involve mainly the
broken bodies of others -- Vietnamese, Cubans, Chileans, Kurds, Iraqis,
Iranians, Palestinians, Central Americans, and, of course, the no-account
mass of ordinary Americans -- so who cares?
- Kissinger's lifelong task has been to extract the liquids,
including huge volumes of blood, from America's imperial detritus and convince
the world in a gravelly, authoritative baritone, with earnest, over-the-glasses
looks, that he has distilled a wondrous elixir for the benefit of humanity.
- And he has been a remarkable success, perhaps the most
energetic and amoral character since Talleyrand, the utterly-corrupt Catholic
bishop who served every government of France from revolutionary to imperial
to re-installed royalty as a statesman with equal indifference to principle
and equal capacity for foul and self-aggrandizing tricks. Talleyrand died,
of course, a fabulously wealthy and much decorated figure.
- As readers know, I enjoy poking fun at the more inept
qualities of Mr. Bush, always in the desperate hope that Mark Twain was
right when he wrote that nothing withstands the assault of laughter. But
the truth is, in dark private moments, I am inclined to agree with Mark
Miller who has observed that Bush's speech and gestures are better explained
by a personality disorder than a lack of intelligence. The disorder his
study suggests is a degree of sociopathy. How else do you explain shared
commitments with a monster?
- [John Chuckman is former chief economist for a large
Canadian oil company. He has many interests and is a lifelong student of
history. He writes with a passionate desire for honesty, the rule of reason,
and concern for human decency. He is a member of no political party and
takes exception to what has been called America's "culture of complaint"
with its habit of reducing every important issue to an unproductive argument
between two simplistically defined groups. John regards it as a badge of
honor to have left the United States as a poor young man from the South
Side of Chicago when the country embarked on the pointless murder of something
like three million Vietnamese in their own land because they happened to
embrace the wrong economic loyalties. He lives in Canada, which he is fond
of calling "the peaceable kingdom."]
- John Chuckman encourages your comments: jchuckman@YellowTimes.org
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