Two Very Different Pilots

I wonder if anyone else has been as struck as I have been by the interesting conjuncture of events yesterday.


On one hand we had the remarkable story of U.S. Airways Flight 1549.  Americans and others the world over were inspired by the competence and heroism of the masterful U.S. Air pilot Chesley Sullenberger III and his crew in the emergency landing of a disabled jetliner on the Hudson River in lower Manhattan.


The actions of pilot and plane crew were necessary, remarkable, courageous, brilliant, and life-saving. Nobody died. One hundred and fifty-five lives were preserved.


Later the same day we heard the last ridiculous ramblings – messianic militarist, arrogant, and self-deluded to the bitter end – of George W. Bush.  The Worst President Ever is a former National Guard jet pilot who will be remembered forever for an ill-advised jet flight on to the deck of a U.S. aircraft carrier where he absurdly proclaimed victory in Iraq on May 1st 2003 in front of a banner reading "Mission Accomplished."


He will also be recalled in perpetual shame for the way he crassly exploited the jetliner attacks that took place in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001 – not that far from Sullenberger’s heroics.  The Bush II White House saw 9/11 as a great opportunity to deepen the concentration of wealth and power, to roll back civil liberties and to launch a criminal, unnecessary, and brazenly imperialist occupation of a nation that had nothing to with the terror attacks. The War on Iraq was sold and justified on shamelessly false pretexts (including false identification with al Qaeda and 9/11), captured in a 2002 British intelligence brief  (the "Downing Street Memo," released in 2005) reporting  that the Bushies  were fixing the intelligence (on mythical Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction") in advance of an already selected policy of invasion.


The Bush-Cheney cabal managed their petro-colonial assault on Iraq in the most stupid and ineffective ways imaginable, reflecting among other things the administration and foreign policy establishment’s mind-numbing ignorance of Middle Eastern history and Iraqi and Arab culture.


Along with his vicious and pathetic response to Hurricane Katrina, George the Lesser’s fiasco in Iraq has granted him a permanent place of honor in the Incompetence Hall of Shame.


Worse then merely stupid and bungling, however, the Bush administration has been criminal and mass-murderous beyond words. So far more than 4000 U.S. troops and as many as 1.2 million Iraqis have died without any justifiable reason thanks to Bush’s "Operation Iraqi Liberation" (O.I.L.,). 


Bush has imposed nothing less than a Holocaust on Mesopotamia. According to the respected journalist Nir Rosen in the December 2007 edition of the mainstream journal Current History, "Iraq has been killed, never to rise again.  The American occupation has been more disastrous than that of the Mongols who sacked Baghdad in the thirteenth century.  Only fools talk of solutions now.  There is no solution.  The only hope is that perhaps the damage can be contained."


And then there’s Bush’s equally criminal and also mass-murderous U.S. war on Afghanistan, which the incoming not-Bush administration is unfortunately pledged to escalate.


Let’s hope the Age of Obama will see the U.S. produce more people of Sullenberger’s caliber and no more boy king Dubyas.


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