Sunday, 16 June 2024

Murphy: America retools history – again

A longstanding American tradition is to rewrite history in a form we find more agreeable, as the death of president Bush reminds us.

There are an almost endless number of video pieces, print stories and commentaries on his passing, but one would be very hard-pressed to find an account of his life that even vaguely resembles a reasonably balanced or accurate portrayal of reality.

If President Bush were a movie star or sports figure it wouldn’t matter much, but where the political history of the nation is the subject of the recollection the truth is something we can’t afford to be diminished by sentimentality, misguided patriotism or respect for the dead.

You won’t hear much about how Bush used lies about Iraqi troops tossing babies out of incubators in Kuwaiti hospitals or huge masses of Iraqi troops and tanks on the Saudi border to get us into the first Gulf War, or how he urged the Kurds in northern Iraq and Shia in Southern Iraq to “rise up” and overthrow Saddam, who he then allowed to slaughter them by the tens of thousands.

You’re also unlikely to hear about the American support he helped Saddam get as vice president in the Iran-Iraq war, or how he broke his word to the Russians to not move NATO bases “one inch” to the east after the fall of the Soviet Union, or what the resulting impact of encircling Russia with American troops and weapons has done to prospects of world peace today.

There is almost no mention of his direct role in the Iran-Contra scandal in the remembrances, or how special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh stated that Bush was “fully aware” of the illegal support for the Contras and weapon sales to the Iranians, or how Bush refused to be interviewed by the special prosecutor and withheld critical documents from the investigation, or how he pardoned six of the defendants in that case and made legal history by being the only president to pardon someone who’s trial he was to be a witness at.

Multiple people at the highest level of the weapons smuggling operation were adamant that Bush was fully informed that Panamanian president Manuel Noriega was using CIA provided planes and pilots to smuggle cocaine into America. You won’t hear that either.

The invasion of Panama and capture of Noriega won’t be mentioned, or the fact that the primary reason for it was that Noriega had carefully archived his contacts with Bush to blackmail him if he tried to stop the drug smuggling operation, and that Bush needed him behind bars to keep the secret, even if several thousand civilians had to die in the process.

Another unmentionable embarrassment was Bush’s Vice President Dan Quayle, likely the most unqualified VP choice in modern times.

You will hear a lot about him having the longest lasting marriage of any president, you won’t hear about the at least eight women who have claimed he groped them, or that it was extremely implausible that he wasn’t having a long-term affair with his secretary Jennifer Fitzgerald.

Those who choose to ignore these truths about the man endanger the future of our nation, because the record does matter to those who want to survive in a fact-based world.

Sources: Wikipedia, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, National Security Archives, Rolling Stone and BBC.

Phil Murphy lives in Finley, Calif.

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