Max Boot, erstwhile Wall Street Journal editorial-page righter, is one of the oil “experts” touted by the Council on Foreign Relations. From that aerie, he pecks at those who would dare to suggest that the invasion of Iraq was about oil. His Newsweek piece “A Conspiracy of Good, Not of Greed” was part of the war drumbeat, published originally on March 1, 2003. In it, he wrote, “It’s improbable to think that a president with a Harvard M.B.A. would calculate that invading Iraq is a paying proposition.” Well, it’s paying Halliburton, Fluor, Bechtel, and many others quite well. Not to mention the windfall for oil companies because of the spike in oil prices, a major part of which was caused by the invasion of Iraq.
Luckily, Boot’s piece is preserved by the CFR. Let’s hope the recent video of George W. Bush signing a massive defense bill is also saved for posterity. It may be the best piece of video this year.
You may have read about it. On August 5, in front of a gaggle of generals and defense contractors creaming their jeans over the $417 billion check that you taxpayers are so graciously picking up, Bush said,
Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
Read the transcript, courtesy of the White House, here. But click on that same page for the video. Don Rumsfeld is standing next to Bush, and he seems to be zoning out while the president gives a particularly uninspiring reading of his prepared speech. But then Bush looks up—uh-oh, an ad lib’s coming. The Harvard Business School grad (Class of ’75) flashes his cocky little smirk and delivers the memorable line. Does Rumsfeld flinch a little? Maybe. The Minister of War does lower his eyes to the papers in Bush’s hands. If he was indeed listening, Rumsfeld pulled off a deadpan worthy of Ali G.
Bush’s gaffe made some news. The best treatment was this straight-faced lead paragraph from Reuters:
President Bush told a roomful of top Pentagon brass on Thursday that his administration would never stop looking for ways to harm the United States.
Well, that’s what we’ve been saying.
Anyway, this latest gaffe—read it on Reuters U.K., or on this Hindustan Times page—didn’t cause much of an aftershock. Ali G can’t say the same. In his ninth episode, “Peace,” his character Borat, supposedly from Kazakhstan, led a sing-along at a shitkicker bar in Tucson of his “folk” song “In My Country There is Problem”. The refrain? “Throw the Jew down the well/So my country can be free.” (You can see it in HBO reruns or in fits and starts at Camp Chaos’s collection of Viral Videos.) Ali G is in reality a British (and Jewish) comedian named Sacha Baron Cohen, but New York Jewish leaders didn’t take too kindly to his bit showing the stupidity of antisemitism. (See this story in The Jewish Week.)
Bush’s performance, likewise, was really nothing to laugh about, either, much as I hate to say it, because his gaffe obscured the scary, expensive death toys he was unveiling in the war budget. Among them:
Oh, yeah. Bush added: “And $200 million to buy more Predator unmanned surveillance aircraft to track and hunt our enemies.”
But it’s unlikely that those planes will be ready in time to use on New Yorkers next weekend.