Never Forget: George Bush’s Wars Set The Stage For 25 Years Of Endless War

Wednesday, December 5, 2018
By Paul Martin

by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,
ZeroHedge.com
Wed, 12/05/2018

By 1989, it had become apparent to all – everyone except the CIA, of course – that the Soviet economy, and thus the Soviet state was in very deep trouble.

In November 1989, the Berlin Wall came down in the face of Soviet impotence. And, with the Cold-War corpse not even cold yet, president George Bush used the newly apparent Soviet weakness as an opportunity to expand US foreign interventionism beyond the limits that had been imposed on it by a competing Soviet Union. Over the next decade, Bush and his successor Bill Clinton — who very much carried on Bush’s ideals of global interventionism — would place Iraq, Somalia, and Yugoslavia in the crosshairs.

But first on Bush’s list was Panama in December 1989. At the time, the Panamanian state was an authoritarian regime that stayed in power largely due to US support, and functioned as an American puppet state in Central America where Communists were often successful in overthrowing right-wing dictatorships. The US regime’s man in Panama was Manuel Noriega. But, after he stopped taking orders from Washington, Noriega became the first in a long line of foreign politicians who were held up as the next “Hitler” by the American propaganda machine. This was done in order to justify what would become an endless policy of invading tiny foreign countries that are no threat to the US – mostly done in the name of “humanitarian” intervention.

Writing in April 1990, Murray Rothbard summed up the situation in Panama:

The U.S. invasion of Panama was the first act of military intervention in the new post-Cold War world — the first act of war since 1945 where the United States has not used Communism or “Marxism-Leninism” as the effective all-purpose alibi. Coming so soon after the end of the Cold War, the invasion was confused and chaotic — a hallmark of Bushian policy in general. Bush’s list of alleged reasons for the invasion were a grab-bag of haphazard and inconsistent arguments — none of which made much sense.

The positive vaunting was, of course, prominent: what was called, idiotically, the “restoration of democracy” in Panama. When in blazes did Panama ever have a democracy? Certainly not under Noriega’s beloved predecessor and mentor, the U.S.’s Panama Treaty partner, General Omar Torrijos. The alleged victory of the unappetizing Guillermo Endara in the abortive Panamanian election was totally unproven. The “democracy” the U.S. imposed was peculiar, to say the least: swearing in Endara and his “cabinet” in secrecy on a US army base.

It was difficult for our rulers to lay on the Noriega “threat” very heavily: Since Noriega, whatever his other sins, is obviously no Marxist-Leninist, and since the Cold War is over anyway it would have been tricky; even embarrassing, to try to paint Noriega and his tiny country as a grave threat to big, powerful United States. And so the Bush administration laid on the “drug” menace with a trowel, braving the common knowledge that Noriega himself was a longtime CIA creature and employee whose drug trafficking was at the very least condoned by the U.S. for many years.

The administration therefore kept stressing that Noriega was simply a “common criminal” who had been indicted in the US (for actions outside the US — so why not indict every other head of state as well — all of whom have undoubtedly committed crimes galore?) so that the invasion was simply a police action to apprehend an alleged fugitive. But what real police action — that is, police action over a territory over which the government has a virtual monopoly of force —involves total destruction of an entire working-class neighborhood, the murder of hundreds of Panamanian civilians as well as American soldiers, and the destruction of a half-billion dollars of civilian property?

The invasion also contained many bizarre elements of low comedy: There was the U.S. government’s attempt to justify the invasion retroactively by displaying Noriega’s plundered effects: porno in the desk drawer (well, gee, that sure justifies mass killing and destruction of property), the obligatory picture of Hitler in the closet (Aha! the Nazi threat again!), the fact that Noriega was stocking a lot of Soviet-made arms (a Commie as well as a Nazi, and “paranoid” too — the deluded fool was actually expecting an American invasion!)

It’s almost darkly comedic how easy it has been to convince the American people to go along with nearly any justification for invading a foreign country, no matter how flimsy. It may be hard for my younger readers to comprehend, but in the late 80s, the American public was so hysterical with fear over street drugs, that it struck many Americans as perfectly reasonable to invade a foreign country, burn down a neighborhood, and send the US Army to lay siege to Panama’s presidential headquarters to catch a single drug kingpin.

After Panama, President Bush moved on to Iraq.

In 1991, Saddam Hussein became the next Hitler, with the media hinting that if left unchecked, Hussein would invade the entire Middle East. “He gassed his own people!” was the endless refrain. The other justification was that Saddam’s government had invaded another country. Rothbard, of course, noted the irony of this “justification”:

But, “he invaded a small country.” Yes, indeed he did. But, are we ungracious for bringing up the undoubted fact that none other than George Bush, not long ago, invaded a very small country: Panama? And to the unanimous huzzahs of the same U.S. media and politicians now denouncing Saddam?

The Iraq war was an even greater political success than the Panama war. But more importantly, George Bush provided an immeasurably wonderful service to the national security state by making war popular again, after more than a decade of the so-called “Vietnam Syndrome.” As Bush so enthusiastically declared after the end of the Gulf War, “The ghosts of Vietnam have been laid to rest beneath the sands of the Arabian desert.”

Americans, however, would have done well to keep up with a healthy dose of post-Vietnam cynicism. After all, the 1991 Gulf War — a war said to be humanitarian in nature — accomplished little more than to empower Saudi Arabia, a brutal Islamist dictatorship ruled by friends of the Bush family, and which currently wages a blood-soaked war in Yemen against women and children.

But, thanks to Bush’s efforts, war in America was made popular again, and the stage was set for years of follow-up wars waged by Bush successors.

The Rest…HERE

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