The Bush of Babylon
By Louis Benedict and Ameen Izzadeen
As our world moves at terrifying speed into the final
week of a tumultuous 2004, it is appropriate, if not ironic, that
the somewhat timeless TIME magazine has chosen the recently re-elected
US President George W. Bush as the Person of the Year. The cryptic
citation by TIME says President Bush had changed the rules of world
politics, meaning that he and his Republican Guard have the absolute
and unquestionable right to decide how the world should be run or
where it should go and any who agree could become allies in their
coalition of the willing while those who disagree are branded as
terrorists to be marginalized, smoked out and exterminated.
coronation of President Bush as the Person of the Year is symbolic
of his unwritten but overriding status as the uncrowned emperor
or Texas Caesar of the biggest and most devastating empire in the
history of the world. On issue after issue and area after area -
especially in regions still rich in oil and natural gas resources
- the world sees Texas Caesar and the American establishment, including
giant global corporations, gradually taking control. The domination
through exploitation and sometimes plunder is seen to be imposed
in the political and socio-economic spheres with religion being
added in recent years as a sign of what is referred to as the abomination
of the desolation.
uncrowned king or modern emperor without moral clothes is widely
seen to be projecting himself as a new messiah and playing god like
the Burning Bush of Exodus though the symbolism is marred or muddled
with the role of an oppressive Pharaoh also coming into the same
or sadly, the most powerful force behind the huge popular vote for
President Bush was a religious power consisting mainly of members
of the white evangelical churches of the United States. It is known
that field marshals and five-star generals of the Bush campaign
went from church to church, and state to state, projecting him as
a new messiah, largely because of the strong stand he was taking
on moral issues like abortion, gay marriage and stem-cell research.
On that basis, several million white evangelical church members
came out in full strength for President Bush, prompting or provoking
Britain's outspoken Daily Mirror to ask in a front-page banner headline
as to how 59 million Americans could be so dumb.
gay marriage and stem-cell research are indeed moral issues. But
the British Daily Mirror and Third World analysts asked whether
those millions of Americans were unaware, unconcerned or insensitive
to the killing of some 100,000 civilians, including women and children,
in Iraq since the pre-emptive, unilateral US attack in March last
year. In this Christmas season, Christians mark Holy Innocents Day
to commemorate less than a hundred infants known to have been slaughtered
by King Herod's soldiers after the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem.
But when the Bush empire slaughters 100,000 innocent civilians in
Iraq and the massacres continue day after day, it is not seen as
a moral issue. Truly, truly, did Jesus Christ identify the hypocrites
who would strain at an ant but swallow an elephant? It appears to
be part of a decadence, or horrifying degeneration, where the Gospel
preached by the poor Jesus of poor Nazareth has been hijacked by
the new empire and we see today the widespread propagation of American
Christianity, corporate or capitalist Christianity, with its prosperity
Gospels and the market on the altar. The corruption and cancer are
so malignant in every sphere that award-winning Third World analyst
Arundhati Roy warned recently that hallowed concepts like democracy,
free elections, free media and an independent judiciary were becoming
meaningless to billions of ordinary people because those concepts
were more like commodities available to the highest bidder in the
globalised capitalist market.
bloody anarchy or the virtually apocalyptic scene in occupied Iraq
- mainly Baghdad, Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadi, Kerbala and Najaf - continued
to be the main headlines for 2004 with the most devastating attack
on US troops being launched at a Mosul military base on Tuesday.
Bush administration and the US-created interim Iraqi government
are insisting on going ahead with the January 30 general elections
though on a staggered basis while even the besieged United Nations
Secretary General, Kofi Annan, at a news conference on December
21 where he analysed the world situation said he did not wish to
comment on whether the situation in Iraq was conducive to free and
fair elections. One of the host of obstacles and negatives is that
the Iraqi authorities largely regarded as US puppets have been able
to recruit only about 35,000 to the police force in contrast to
a target of some 145,000.
Prime Minister Tony Blair, with his flair for inventing or concocting
weapons of mass destruction or mass deception, made a secret visit
to Baghdad on December 21 for talks with the interim government
and said he believed Iraq was on course to become a free and democratic
country as a model for the world, though many questions would be
raised whether it is a model or a muddle.
Blair apparently hoping to do a Bush at the British general elections
next year tried to repair his image with a dramatic peace bid in
Northern Ireland but it fell at the fence over the Protestant hardliners'
demand for photographic evidence of the decommissioning of IRA weapons.
Globally, Mr. Blair is personally leading a campaign to fight AIDS
and poverty in Africa and his latest project is an international
conference on the West Asia issue.
moment of destiny for the world in 2004 was the death of the legendary
Yasser Arafat who had given powerful leadership to the Palestinian
people for half a century. Known and widely-acknowledged as Mr.
Palestine, Mr. Arafat, like all leaders, had his weaknesses, limitations
and a desire for personal glory or gain such as exemplified by the
vast financial assets under his control – some of which were
allegedly misused by his wife Suha. But overall, he was respected
for his courage, vision and goals in a life that had clear direction,
determination and dynamism.
surviving in a ramshackle Ramallah room for the last three years
under Israeli siege, the dying Mr. Arafat finally agreed to leave
his beloved homeland and go to Paris for medical treatment. Though
clinically dead, Mr. Arafat was reported to have been kept alive
for several days while Palestinians and Israeli officials battled
over his last wish to be buried in Jerusalem. Ariel Sharon's Israel
flatly refused, so Mr. Arafat was buried in Ramallah but the Palestinians
brought loads of soil from Jerusalem to be put over his coffin so
that it was a symbolic mix of Ramallah and Jerusalem. If the physical
Arafat could not break a potentially catastrophic deadlock in West
Asia, his spirit seems to be opening some hopeful doors, but the
journey towards a lasting peace might be as uncertain and circuitous
as the Exodus journey with many a cliff and valley.
dim light of a distant star in a region, which many fear might be
the scene of Armageddon, began to shine after Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak surprisingly declared that the hawk of hawks, Ariel
Sharon, might be the only Israeli leader through whom a lasting
peace could be achieved. Mr. Sharon then moved with typical lightning
speed to form a coalition with the pro-peace Labour Party of Shimon
Peres who was appointed as deputy prime minister and put in charge
of the upcoming Gaza withdrawal of Israeli troops. Israel also released
some 190 Palestinian prisoners apparently as a gesture of goodwill
and support for Palestinian moderate Mahmoud Abbas who is seeking
election next month to succeed Mr. Arafat as Palestinian leader.
But some analysts believe Mr. Sharon’s Gaza plan is aimed
at formaldehyding the West Asia peace process.
Premier Blair appears to be taking world leadership in defusing
and settling the West Asia crisis at a time when President Bush
is largely talking of constructive engagement in the region while
focusing mainly on the so-called war on terrorism and the economic
expansion of the US global empire.
Secretary of State Collin Powell - widely seen as a relatively moderate
figure in an otherwise hardline administration - is quitting next
month, leaving further questions hanging over the United States'
West Asia policy. Surprisingly, most of the Cabinet Ministers of
the first Bush administration have resigned while the controversial
hawk of hawks, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, stays on though
even some Republican leaders see him as a lame Donald Duck.
Asia the most stunning or sensational event of 2004 was the dumping
of the high-walking Vajpayee administration which had boasted of
an economic boom but found itself blasted to pieces in the general
elections in May. The wholesale market economic policy of the BJP
government had left 700 million rural Indians marginalized and dispossessed
on or below the poverty line. They spoke loud and clear at the general
elections to discard the BJP and bring in the Congress Party under
Sonia Gandhi. But the Italian-born widow of former premier Rajiv
Gandhi sacrificed the most powerful post in the world's biggest
democracy because she was aware of what might happen on the altars
of religious bigotry. She thus paved the way for the Manmohan Singh
administration to take over in a United Progressive Alliance with
socialists and other parties.
potentially cataclysmic issue in Asia - the Kashmir dispute between
the nuclear powers India and Pakistan - remains on a no-peace-no-war
fence though some hopeful signs including Test matches between the
two countries are on the scorecards.
Afghanistan, another vital front for the strategies of the new global
empire, the first presidential election was held in circumstances
as explosive as the situation in Iraq. Hamid Karzai, virtually handpicked
by the US, claimed victory amidst major controversy while the new
empire's most wanted man Osama bin Laden remained as the major player
on the world scene, striking when and where he wants and terrorizing
the Bush empire with regular video and audio tapes.
year in perspective would show Osama bin Laden - though projected
by the empire as the main devil of terrorism - emerging stronger
and being seen by more as a voice of the Third World to prevent
the empire from plundering and taking control of the world's remaining
resources. At present the rich world comprising only about 15 percent
of the world's population controls or manipulates some 80 percent
of the world's wealth and resources. The new empire has much but
wants more. Third World analysts believe the wars against Afghanistan
and Iraq were more a matter of gaining control over energy resources
than fighting terrorism. Wherever energy resources are available,
the empire also sees Osama bin Laden and wants to pursue an alleged
war on terrorism. Many analysts see Syria and Iran as being the
next targets on the empire's hit list and the weapons of mass deception
have already been put in place with Iran being accused of secretly
preparing nuclear weapons while Syria is alleged to be a haven for
world terrorists and Iraqi insurgents.
any potential Armageddon might be between the new empire or the
new Babylon comprising less than 15 percent of the world's population
and the Third World comprising nearly five billion people. China
and India were widely seen as potential leaders of the Third World
struggle but with the rich and ruling elites of those countries
taking them also into capitalist globalization, the leadership of
the Third World might eventually emerge from the wilderness with
the stone that the empire builders have rejected becoming the cornerstone
of a new world.