“UNACCEPTABLE IN THE 21st CENTURY”
Here are some interesting words from George W. Bush’s early statement last week on Russia’s actions in and against its neighboring state (and former possession) Georgia:
"It now appears that an effort may be underway to depose Georgia’s duly elected government. Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century”
George Orwell Bush strikes yet again. And the “liberal” media and inauthentic opposition of the Democratic Party offer no relevant corrections, as has so often been the case over the last eight years.
If Americans possessed a “left” or even a remotely critical and democratic media and political culture, leading U.S. reporters, broadcasters, commentators, and politicians would have immediately heaped ridicule on this language, asking the White House:
“What century was it, Master, when the Bush administration supported an attempted coup against the democratically elected government of Hugo Chavez (in 2002)?”
“And what century was it, Masters, when the U.S. criminally and immorally invaded and occupied the formerly sovereign states of Afghanistan (October 2001-present) and Iraq (March 2003-?)?"
But no, America’s dutiful, power-worshipping “mainstream” television anchor men and women delivered the story of Bush’s statement with perfectly straight faces. Just like good Soviet propagandists.
We have also yet to hear any leading Democrats, including Afghanistan invasion enthusiast Barack Obama (who believes that the U.S. invaded Iraq with an excess of "good intentions" and needs to stop spending so much money "trying to put Iraq back together") call Bush and/or his dominant media enablers on the totalitarian madness of it all.
“IN THE 21st CENTURY NATIONS DON’T INVADE OTHER NATIONS”
Not to be outdone by the president when it comes to Orwellian idiocy, the presumptive proto-fascistic Republican presidential candidate John McCain actually said the following to reporters on August 14th:
“In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations.”
Let me repeat McCain’s line: “In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations" 
Right, just like “2 + 2 = 5,” “Love is Hate,” and “War is Peace” because Big Brother (the public face of George Orwell’s totalitarian state Oceana in his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty Four) says so.
McCain’s lovely nine words were part of his effort to "sound tough on Russia." In calling for that country to withdraw from Georgia, McCain said there was no justification for the “extent and degree” of Russia’s intervention in Georgia and proclaimed that we must show “respect for the sovereignty and independence of nations” in the 21st century.
Thankfully, McCain’s wacky comments came in for criticism by CNN commentator Jack McCafferty, who said the following on air:
“Say what? The United States invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq more than 5 years ago. And you, Senator McCain, were all for the idea. You voted for the war, remember? At the time, McCain insisted that the U.S. needed to act before Saddam Hussein could develop more advanced weapons. And since then, McCain has remained steadfast in his support of arguably the biggest foreign policy blunder in the history of this country. At one point, McCain said U-S troops could remain in Iraq, a sovereign nation, for 100 years” .
THE IRAQ CRIME AS A MISTAKE BUT NOT A CRIME
McCafferty is a media operative who thinks there should be some outer limits on how totalitarian corporate television should be. Note, however, that he can only call the U.S. occupation or Iraq – cause of the death of more than 1 million Iraqis and the injury and displacement of millions more – “a foreign policy blunder.” Like Obama and the rest of the political and media establishment, he can’t or won’t call it a monumental crime, which it is. Aggressive warfare violates the UN Charter and was the primary transgression for which Nazi was criminals went to the gallows at Nuremberg.
And note that McCafferty makes no reference to the “equally illegal”  Afghanistan invasion, the Establishment’s consensus “good war.”
It is worth noting that both Iraq and Afghanistan are on the other side of the world from Washington while Russia has invaded a neighboring state on its direct border – a former Soviet territory in fact. Nobody in the U.S. news and commentary structure seems to have much to say about what American authorities would think if Russia told them they could not invade a part of Mexico or Canada.
Meanwhile, U.S. news authorities have been keeping a straight face while plausibly tying Russia’s illegal invasion to its desire to control strategic energy resources.
To quote McCafferty, “Say what?” Anyone with some synapses still firing beneath their skull knows that Cheney-Bush invaded Iraq largely to deepen U.S. control of hyper-strategic Middle Eastern oil. Energy resources are relevant also in the ongoing Afghanistan crime that Obama endorses as the "good" colonial occupation .
“NOTHING EVER HAPPENED”
None of this selective coverage and deletion is surprising, of course. Under the rules of "mainstream" political discourse in the United States, crimes are committed by evil others, never by noble "America." Bad things are done by "them," not by "us." "They" have malevolent intent but "we" are fundamentally good, driven by the highest and most noble objectives: peace, democracy, and liberty.
From the end of World War Two through the present, the U.S. Empire has caused "the extinction and suffering of countless human beings. The United States," John Pilger notes, "attempted to overthrow fifty governments, many of them democracies, and to crush thirty popular movements fighting tyrannical regimes. In the process, twenty-five countries were bombed, causing the loss of several million lives and the despair of millions more" .
The leading imperial crimes include a massive U.S. assault on the peasant nation of Vietnam – an epic attack that killed 3 million Indochinese – and the continuing illegal invasion of oil-rich Mesopotamia, whose terrible human consequences remain essentially unmentionable in “mainstream” (dominant) U.S. media.
But in the U.S, and indeed across much of the West, the story of this ongoing criminality is airbrushed out from official history and the mass culture. It is tossed down Orwell’s "memory hole," consistent with Big Brother’s dictum in Nineteen Eighty Four: "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."
As Harold Pinter noted in his biting acceptance of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature, dominant Western cultural authorities simple delete Uncle Sam’s long criminal record. When it comes to American transgression against civilized norms and international law, "nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening,” Pinter added in a comment that is richly applicable to the recent commentary of Bush and McCain, “it never happened. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest" .
As liberal political scientist Sheldon Wolin recently noted in his chilling book Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism: “the subject of [U.S.] empire is taboo in [U.S. political] debate. No major politician or party has so much as publicly remarked on the existence of an American empire” .
Beyond huge historical inaccuracy, the problem here is that powerful nations who deny the occurrence of past transgressions and delete past crimes from collective memory (e.g. the 1989 Tiananmen Square in state-capitalist China) are certain to commit new ones.
Paul Street ([email protected]) is a veteran radical historian and independent author, activist, researcher, and journalist in Iowa City, IA. He is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Paradigm 2005); Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (Routledge 2005): and Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis (Rowman&Littlefied 2007). Street’s new book Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics can be ordered at http://www.paradigmpublishers.com/Books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=186987)
2. See and hear the statement on CNN at http://www.juancole.com/2008/08/mccain-nations-dont-invade-other.html)
4. See Marjorie Cohn, "End the Occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan," ZNet (July 30, 2008), read at http://www.zcomm.org/znet/viewArticle/18303
5. Paul Street, “Obama’s Good and ‘Proper’ War,” ZNet (March 5, 2008). On energy resources regarding Afghanistan, see John Pilger, Freedom Next Time: Resisting the Empire (New York: Nation Books, 2007), pp. 279-283, 312.
6. Pilger, Freedom Next Time, pp. 4-5.
7. Pinter is quoted in Pilger, Freedom Next Time, p.4.
8. Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton university Press, 2008), p. 192. During one of the Republican presidential debates last year, I did hear Ron Paul refer in a critical terms to the existence of an American Empire.