No Beating about the Bush

By Aijaz Zaka Syed – Dubai

If only Burma had oil–as much as Iraq has–perhaps Aung San Suu Kyi wouldn’t have spent nearly two decades of her life in incarceration. If Burma had been somewhere in the neighborhood of the imagined biblical map over which the neocons and Zionists are forever fixated, the ordeal of this extraordinary woman and her people would have probably ended sooner. 

It’s not easy being a hero in Burma. Imagine living all alone, cut off from your family, your people and the rest of the world. No phone, no papers, no mail, let alone the Internet and e-mail. She had the option of walking out and going back to Britain to join her husband and sons. She soldiered on though, not so much as a symbol of defiance but more as a source of hope and support for her people. 

Yet after all that this visibly vulnerable woman with a steely will has been through under the junta that has eaten this beautiful country like a cancer from within for half a century, she is not bitter or vengeful. Suu Kyi is still, what Mathew Arnold would call, all sweetness and light.

He doesn’t seem to make women and men like Suu Kyi anymore. There are so few of them around today. If you have Suu Kyi at one end, at the other extreme you find George W Bush and Tony Blair. If Suu Kyi inspires hope and optimism about the future of mankind, the Bushes and Blairs of this world fill you with despair.

Predictably, the former leading lights of the Western coalition remain smugly defiant in their much hyped memoirs. No remorse or even a fleeting sense of repentance over what they have visited on Iraq, Afghanistan and rest of the world in the name of freedom, democracy and human rights.  

As blasé as ever, in his ignominious Journey, Blair goes to absurd lengths to bat for the cowboy coalition and defend his legacy: “I can’t regret the decision to go to war. I can say that never did I guess the nightmare that unfolded, and that, too, is part of the responsibility.”

He talks of “grief” over the loss of hundreds of British and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. “Do they really suppose I don’t care, don’t feel, don’t regret with every fiber of my being the loss of those who died?” he asks. “Tears, though there have been many, do not encompass it.”

Ever the slick operator and master of spin, Blair spins his way out of the moral and ethical morass that he landed Britain in.  But then conscience, ethical and moral dilemmas are for mere mortals like us. The Blairs and Bushes do not lose sleep over such ephemeral things.  

If Blair remains unruffled even after the exposure of the epic lies and monumental deception on which the case for this war was built, his master is even more brazen and unapologetic in Decision Points about the toxic nature of his ‘legacy’ and the mind-boggling mess he has left behind on all fronts for his successor and the world.

Why, Bush is so characteristically lazy and plain dishonest that he has no qualms in even plagiarizing, lifting entire portions from other people’s memoirs and accounts of his own advisers! So much for his publishers’ promise to take readers “aboard Air Force One on 9/11, in the hours after America’s most devastating attack since Pearl Harbor; at the head of the table in the Situation Room in the moments before launching the war in Iraq”!

But plagiarizing and intellectual laziness is only a minor offence when pitted against what the leader of the Coalition of the Willing and his other equally willing accomplices unleashed on the world.  

Nearly a million and half lives extinguished and two countries totally wrecked in the name of peace and fighting terror, not to mention the shining examples of upholding the UN Rights Charter and Geneva Conventions with Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, rendition, waterboarding and drones.

Yet W. continues to remain beyond the pale of shame or even fleeting pangs of guilt. In Decision Points, revealed to select newspapers, he brags how he authorized the CIA to waterboard hundreds of usual suspects including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the so-called 9/11 mastermind.  The cowboy who imagined him to be on a new crusade against the “infidels in the Middle East” recalls how he was asked by the CIA if it could use persuasive methods like waterboarding and how his immediate response was: “Damn right!”

In fact, the book is full of such unabashed, in-your-face belligerence over the shame of Iraq and the attendant gifts of America’s never-ending war of terror. Yet the US media that obsequiously swallowed and peddled the white lies about Iraq’s yet-to-be-found weapons of mass destruction, giving the neocons and Zionists their fig leaf of an excuse – it is doing the same now on Iran’s non-existent nukes – is still toadying and fawning all over the Bush book. 

Even writers like the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd, known for her acerbic pen, are seen humoring and indulging the former president, rather than confronting him on his sins.

But, as Ray McGovern argues in a brutally honest piece, if America calls itself a democracy and its free media considers itself a watchdog of this great democracy, is it not complicit in the neocons crimes against humanity?

When the World War II ended, some suggested moving on by forgiving and forgetting German war criminals, the chief US prosecutor at Nuremberg Tribunals and US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson asserted that justice must prevail no matter who the accused are:

“No charity can disguise the fact that the forces which these defendants represent are the darkest and most sinister force in society. Their acts have bathed the world in blood and set civilization back a century. The real complaining party at your bar is civilization. Civilization asks whether law is so laggard as to be utterly helpless to deal with crimes of this magnitude by criminals of this order of importance.”

As if Jackson foresaw the present predicament of America, he warned: “The ultimate step in avoiding periodic wars is to make statesmen responsible to law. While this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve any useful purpose it must condemn, aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment.”

Civilization is once again asking if there are two sets of laws and standards of justice – one for the US and the West — and another for the rest of the world. Those who sat in judgment at Nuremberg find themselves in the dock today. Yet no one can so much as lift a finger at the accused! 

– Aijaz Zaka Syed is a Dubai-based writer who has written extensively on the Middle East and Muslim world. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
Our Vision For Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out