Memo to: The White House
Re: Terrorizing the IAEA
I hear reports today of public-opinion polls not only showing President Bush
disliked by the great majorities of practically every European country, but
also for the first time showing a narrow majority of Europeans disliking the
American people. The reason, of course, is the war in Iraq. They could forgive
us for making a mistake in believing once we got on the ground we would find
those weapons of mass destruction and maybe even links to al-Qaeda and 9/11.
But now they watch us destroying Iraqi cities and towns, adding to the estimated
150,000 military and civilians Iraqi deaths every day, and rigging "elections"
with our handpicked interim government all the while asking their political
leaders in Europe to send money and troops to help out good old Uncle Sam.
And now, to top it all off, they see good old Uncle Sam seemingly eager to
do it all over again in Iran. The same bloodthirsty neoconservatives who have
packed your administration via the good offices of Vice President Cheney are
now insisting that Tehran has a nuclear-weapons program. And unless we have
"regime change" in Tehran, nothing else will satisfy them that an
Iranian nuke is not just around the corner. That's why they have to get rid
of Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Last week, the neo-crazies that populate your administration had UN General
Secretary Kofi Annan in their gunsights, having long ago decided he keeps getting
in the way of their plans for a New American Imperium. What a relief it was,
White House, to see you allow President Bush to announce his support for Kofi
and his own investigation of charges of corruption in the UN "Oil-for-Food"
program instead of joining the GOP hardliners who are demanding his resignation.
If Paul Volcker, arguably the most respected senior political figure in the
U.S., doesn't have the credibility to conduct the investigation on behalf of
the United Nations, we are really living in a madhouse.
Mohamed ElBaradei, whom the White House is openly campaigning against on the
spurious grounds that he should only have two terms, is this week's neocon victim.
And if there is any political figure in the world these days who has greater
respect in the international community than ElBaradei, I can't imagine who it
would be. Hans Blix, his counterpart in the UNMOVIC chem/bio inspection team,
hardly distinguished himself during the UN Security Council hearings in advance
of the war. While Blix took the slightest openings to question Baghdad's compliance
with UN Security Council Resolution 1441, ElBaradei was absolutely firm in his
conclusions that Iraq had no nukes, no nuke programs, and no means of reconstituting
them. It was ElBaradei's IAEA that took only 24 hours to announce that the Niger
"yellowcake" document proving Saddam was buying uranium on the sly
a document that U.S. and British intelligence swallowed as genuine
had been forged.
Dear White House: Don't you see that you are permitting the president to look
ridiculous in the eyes of the world, by attacking the one man who we now can
certify has been absolutely honest and accurate throughout these last troubled
years? It is incomprehensible to a great many Americans, let alone Europeans,
how Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been asked to stay on for a second
term when practically every last thing he did in the first term was tantamount
to misfeasance, if not malfeasance. He should have been booted just over the
Abu Ghraib scandal, not to mention the much graver errors he made in planning
for the aftermath of the war he helped promote with his neocon pals. And I say
this as an old friend and admirer of Rummy, whom I tried to promote as Reagan's
running mate in 1980 (the job the president's father got instead).
So here you have Mohamed ElBaradei, who has been 100 percent correct in all
his judgments, an international public servant who deserves the highest prizes
for his competency, his honesty, and his diplomatic skills that are even now
working to avoid further American blunders in Iran and North Korea. Yet, over
the weekend, we discover through the Washington Post that you
had authorized the wiretapping of ElBaradei's phone calls in his discussions
with Tehran, hoping to find some dirt on him. And today, we read in the Australian
press that your folks at State have been browbeating
the Howard government asking it to browbeat Foreign Minister Alexander Downer
to campaign for ElBaradei's job. The Aussie press reports Downer has run for
the woods hoping to hide out from the neo-crazies until they get the message
he does not want to topple the most respected Muslim public servant in the world
and climb onto Uncle Sam's lap with Tony-you-know-who.
My recommendation, White House, is that you take this opportunity to invite
ElBaradei to 1600 Pennsylvania for a fireside chat with the president, have
the photographers in for a picture of the two men shaking hands, with the president
smiling as big as he can, and have it be known that your boss has decided to
get fully behind a third term for his friend Mohamed. What a nice holiday gift
it would be to the world! I guarantee, people everywhere would see the picture
and their political leaders would explain to them that George W. Bush seems
to have turned over a new leaf for the New Year, and maybe Americans aren't
so bad after all.