05 October 2010

Ed Felien : Jon Stewart, Meet George W. Bush

In defense of the Left,
with love to Jon Stewart

In trying to appear a moderate, Stewart criticized the right for its attacks on Obama and the left for accusing Bush of being a war criminal and comparing him to Hitler.
By Ed Felien / The Rag Blog / October 5, 2010

In a stroke of comedic genius Jon Stewart has called for a "Rally for Sanity" to "Take it down a notch" at the Washington Monument on October 30.

It's part an answer to Glen Beck’s rally to Restore Honor and part Rock the Vote to motivate his younger demographic to get out and vote on November 2. Stewart is portraying the rally and himself as an island of sanity in an insane season when Obama is seen by the Right as a Kenyan Mau-Mau anti-colonialist, socialist, Muslim hell-bent on America’s destruction.

One of the suggested signs for demonstrators at Stewart’s rally would be, "I Disagree With You, But I'm Pretty Sure You're Not Hitler."

In trying to appear a moderate, Stewart criticized the right for its attacks on Obama and the left for accusing Bush of being a war criminal and comparing him to Hitler.

Are there parallels between Hitler and Bush? Is Bush a war criminal?

There are parallels in American history, but the scope and intensity of the repression that Bush initiated and justified by 9/11 went further than any previous President in wartime.

He did not just suspend the right of habeas corpus, the right to a fair trial, and the right to confront your accusers, he kidnapped U. S. citizens and foreign nationals off the streets and locked them up in concentration camps and subjected them to torture. The difference between Bush and Hitler in this is quantitative not qualitative; that is, they both did it but Hitler did a lot more of it.

They both ruled by terror. Bush modeled his government on George Orwell's 1984: War is Peace; the war on terror was really a war OF terror; The Department of Homeland Security (with its permanent orange level of terror alert) created insecurity.

Bush spied on citizens and wiretapped their phones without any legal or ethical justification. He asserted a doctrine of preemptive war that meant he could attack anyone or any country that he felt might become a threat to U. S. vital interests. He declared that his administration was not bound by international law or treaties.

If someone in the government disagreed with him, their careers were destroyed; former Ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times that pointed out the lies in the State of the Union Address that were used to justify the invasion of Iraq, and Bush officials ended his wife's career as a CIA analyst. Dissent is the lifeblood of democracy and Bush crushed it.

The Nazi Party in Germany was a variant of the European fascist movement. Benito Mussolini was the first successful fascist leader. He led his Black Shirts in a march on Rome in 1922 that changed Italian politics. In an act of sincere flattery, Hitler imitated it by staging an unsuccessful beer hall putsch in Munich the following year.

Mussolini said, "Corporato il stati." The corporation is the state. Hitler believed capitalists should be "masters in their own house." Bush has taken fascism a step further. Mussolini and Hitler merely supported big business while they were pursuing other national objectives, but Bush allowed his family business to direct government policy. In his case, the corporation really did become the state.

The Bush family fortune for four generations has been tied to the business of war. Ever since Great Grandfather Sam Bush sat on Wilson's War Industries Board in World War I and made parts for Remington revolvers, the Bush family has benefited from war.

Sam's son Prescott wanted to make serious money when he graduated from Yale, so he and some of his buddies went to work for Brown Brothers Harriman. Peace had broken out in the 1920s, and the only hope for war profiteers was in the re-arming of Germany (in violation of the Versailles Treaty).

He became Manager of the Union Banking Corporation to trade with Nazi financier Fritz Thyssen. They sold bonds to help finance the re-arming of Germany. They bought a steamship line to ship Remington arms to Germany through a dummy corporation in Holland. He also managed a Silesian coal field that used slave labor from the neighboring Auschwitz Concentration Camp. According to Dutch intelligence sources he took direct management of some of the slave labor camps in Poland to aid Nazi armament industries.

Prescott Bush continued working for these interests for almost a year after the U. S. had declared war on Germany. It was not until October of 1942, when the U. S. seized the assets of Union Bank, the steamship line, the Seamless Steel Equipment (suppliers of steel, wire and explosives to the Nazis) and the Silesian-American Company (the coal mining company), that Prescott stopped supplying the Nazi war machine. Of course, at that point he switched sides and started supplying the Allies.

In 1929 Harriman & Company bought Dresser Industries (manufacturers of oil pipeline equipment) and Prescott Bush became a Director. He continued to run Dresser Industries from the board for the rest of his life. His son, George H. W. Bush, went to work there after graduating from Yale. Dresser was quite successful in selling oil pipeline and drilling equipment. It had a virtual worldwide monopoly. The oil drilling equipment in Iraq belonged to Dresser (through their French subsidiary) in violation of U. N. and U. S. sanctions.

Using lies and distortions, George W. Bush used the tragedy of 9/11 to justify invading Iraq. He wanted control of the oil for his family business. Dick Cheney has always been the chief thug and frontman for the Bush family. When H. W. George was President, Cheney was Secretary of Defense. When Bush lost, Cheney became CEO of Halliburton.

While CEO he bought Dresser Industries from the Bush family (the details were worked out on a hunting trip) for $8 billion. No cash changed hands and Halliburton was only worth $8 billion at the time, so the Bush family must own controlling interest in Halliburton.

When George W. Bush became President he made Cheney his vice president, and with old family friend Rumsfeld as secretary of defense, they were able to steer multi-billion-dollar no-bid contracts to Halliburton. With the U. S. and Bush in control of the Iraq government, they were able to steal 25 percent of the world's known oil resources for the family business.

When George W. Bush was President and head of the family business, we had the perfect merger of state and corporation, the final stage of fascism only dreamt of by Mussolini.

Was Bush a fascist? Was he a Nazi?

Certainly grandfather Prescott was an active and effective collaborator with the Nazis. But it wasn't just the money. Prescott and his father-in-law, George Walker (for whom George I and George II are middle-named), sponsored the Third International Congress of Eugenics on Long Island in the early 1930s, and many of the proposals about forced sterilization and elimination of the feebleminded that were discussed at the conference were later implemented by Nazi Germany.

But is it fair that the sins of the grandfather should be visited upon the children? No. Even if he carries the name(s), even if he inherits the family business and fortune, even if he inherits the political base of fascist elements that were driven from Europe at the end of World War II and became the virulent anti-Communist wing of the Republican Party, he still deserves to be judged on his own actions.

Did he repudiate his family's past connections to Nazi Germany? No.

Did he suppress civil liberties? Yes.

Did he rule by terror? Yes.

Did he embark on total war? Yes.

Did he allow his family business interests to direct government policy? Yes.

Finally, the shelling of Fallujah, the brutal murder of defenseless Iraqi civilians, has as its only parallel the Nazi atrocities at Guernica and Lidice.

Was Bush a Nazi?

We can be certain that history will judge Bush to have been corrupt, arrogant, dictatorial, and brutal. Whether the atrocities he committed place him in the same rank as Hitler is a judgment for later generations, but we would be blind not to see that he is in the same group.

He stands indicted as a petty tyrant, a small fascist who ran the biggest superpower the world had ever seen. The damage he did to the rule of law, to the public treasury, to the national character at home and the horror and suffering he inflicted on innocent people abroad are crimes against humanity. To remain silent is to be an accomplice.

Jon Stewart has a powerful and eloquent voice and a genius for a comedic irony. He could benefit from reading history a little more closely.

[Ed Felien is publisher and editor of Southside Pride, a South Minneapolis monthly.]

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