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Commentary :: Politics
The Crimes of George H.W. Bush
18 Sep 2006
The Crimes of George H.W. Bush

By Jake Hess

On Thursday, 21 September, Suffolk University will kick off its centennial celebration. This should be a proud moment for our community, an occasion to reflect on all we’ve achieved in our first century of existence. Instead, the day will be a profoundly shameful one for us all.
As is now well-known, George H.W. Bush will deliver the main speech at the Academic Convocation on Thursday, officially beginning a year of celebration. What is less well-known – at least in this country - is that Mr. Bush has a long history of slaughtering innocent people on a global scale, both directly and through proxy. Mr. Bush’s presence on campus will be a disgrace to our University and a whitewash of the abject terror he’s spread across the world.
To do justice to the sheer extent of Mr. Bush’s crimes with seven-hundred words is all but impossible. So what follows is only a small taste of what our Convocation speaker has been up to in recent decades.
One of Mr. Bush’s many lengthy trails of blood runs through Iraq: as Reagan’s Vice President, Mr. Bush participated in arming, funding and politically backing Saddam Hussein, even during the butcher’s worst human rights abuses. [1] Mr. Bush responded to Hussein’s infamous “gassing of his own people” in Halabja - an incident in which five thousand innocents were killed [2] - by doubling US financial credits for the Iraqi regime. [3] In a fair world, Mr. Bush would, like his former ally, be locked up in Baghdad, where the ex-dictator is now being indicted on counts of “genocide” against the Kurds.
The Bush-Hussein alliance turned sour when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. After undermining Iraqi offers for withdrawal as part of a broader regional settlement – leaked to the media by US officials who saw some promise in the proposals [4] – Mr. Bush initiated what was then the most heavily-concentrated bombing campaign in human history. [5] About seven thousand Iraqi civilians were killed in the short conflict [6], as the US army systematically bombed civilian targets [7] , including water purification plants, sewage systems, bridges, highways and railroads. According to William Cleveland’s authoritative history of the Middle East, the “entire infrastructure of Iraq was rendered inoperable” by the attacks. [8]
Saddam Hussein is far from the only tyrant Mr. Bush has lavished with support. In 1983, while VP, Mr. Bush lauded Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s “respect for human rights.” [9] Yet, it is widely recognized that Ceausescu was one of the most vicious despots of his time. Joseph Rothschild, a renowned scholar of Eastern Europe, describes the former Communist regime as "unpopular domestic Stalinism characterized by repression."[10] Even current President Bush has referred to Ceausescu as “evil”, “iron fisted” and as an “aggressive dictator”. [11]
Mr. Bush was intimately involved in the US-backed terrorist campaigns in Central America during the 1980s. In Guatemala, the US-armed and funded military dictatorships – installed after the CIA overthrew the country’s democratically elected government in 1954 [12] – perpetrated some of the most horrific violence of the twentieth century.
According to the Commission for Historical Clarification, an independent human rights
inquiry established as part of Guatemala’s peace process in 1994, some two-hundred thousand people were killed in political violence during the Reagan-Bush years. Ninety three percent of the killings were blamed on the US-backed army, three percent on left-wing guerrillas. The Commission accused the military of “genocide” against the country’s indigenous Maya Indians, describing how Bush’s allies “completely exterminated Mayan communities, destroying their livestock and crops”. No less than six-hundred twenty six massacres were carried out against Mayan villages; several hundred were demolished in a “scorched earth” campaign. [13]
The issue here, contrary to what some detractors may assert, is not Mr. Bush’s right-wing political views or party affiliation. It is that, by inviting him to our University (and presumably paying him a fat stipend), President Sargent – who invited the killer to Suffolk - is legitimizing his well-document crimes against humanity and insulting the millions of innocent lives he ruined. Any conscientious person would oppose hosting, say, Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton – also mass murderers – for the same reasons.
But who has time for basic morality when prestige is on offer? Apparently not President Sargent. Enjoy the celebration, everyone!

Jake Hess is a senior at Suffolk. He welcomes feedback at jakerhess(at)gmail.com

Endnotes

[1] Mark Pythian, “Arming Iraq: How the US and Britain Secretly Built Saddam’s War Machine”, (Northeastern University Press, 1997)
[2] William L. Cleveland, “A History of the Modern Middle East”, (West View, 1994), pg 373
[3] Peter W. Galbraith, Boston Globe, 07 September 2006
[4] Noam Chomsky, “Hegemony or Survival” (Metropolitan, 2003), pg 158
[5] William Blum, “Rogue State”, (Common Courage, 2000), pg 159
[6] Cleveland, “A History of the Modern Middle East”, pg 436
[7] Washington Post, 23 June 1991. Cited by William Blum in, “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II” (Common Courage, 1995), pg 335
[8] Cleveland, “A History of the Modern Middle East”, pg 433
[9] Quoted by Chomsky in “Hegemony or Survival”, pg 113
[10] Joseph Rothschild, “Return to Diversity: A Political History of East Central Europe since World War II” (third ed., Oxford University Press, 2000), pg 206
[11] Christian Science Monitor, 25 November 2002. Quoted by Chomsky in “Hegemony or Survival”, pg 113
[12] A solid history of the coup is Stephen Kinzer and Stephen Schlesinger, “Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala” (Doubleday, 1990). A revised, updated edition, published by Harvard University, is now available.
[13] A partial English-language translation of the Commission’s report is available at <http://shr.aaas.org/guatemala/ceh/report/english/toc.html>;

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