The bloviations of public hypocrisy are a never-ceasing wonder to behold. The art of mouthing sanctimonious twaddle while peddling murderous hardball on the side requires a degree of moral dislocation -- an almost total divorce of word from deed, of image from reality -- rarely seen outside madhouses, government offices, televised pulpits and certain caves in remote Afghanistan .
And these days there are no more adept practitioners of this dark art than those mighty Twin Towers now holding up the values of Western Civilization -- U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
As we all know, the snack-challenged American prez can scarce ope his upper orifice without intoning noisome pieties about his own "good heart," his love of God and his humble struggle to walk each day in the footsteps of Jesus. Of course, we also know that he is responsible for more state-sanctioned killings than anyone else in modern American history; that he has given himself the power to assassinate anyone on Earth, anywhere, anytime -- even without those dandy new tribunal powers he awarded himself last year -- and that through his connections to the Carlyle Group, that shadowy broker of backroom deals and bristling ordnance, his family and cronies will personally profit from every war and rumor of war he can stir up throughout the world. A sanctimonious death-dealing hypocrite, in other words, on a par with that other heaver of holy upchuck, Osama bin Laden.
Bush churns out moral idiocy so fast it's hard to keep up, but last week brought us a particularly glaring example. The U.S. military is now amassing captured members of al-Qaida at its peculiar military base in Cuba . (We almost said alleged members of al-Qaida before we remembered the First Rule of Bush Jurisprudence: Everyone is guilty until proven innocent -- and sometimes even then.) The captives -- having first been forcibly shaved in an act of deliberate religious humiliation -- are now being caged and chained and subjected to, er, "intense interrogation."
This treatment is a violation of the Geneva Convention, of course, but Bush has decreed that these men are "unlawful combatants," not prisoners-of-war -- despite all his soaring rhetoric about the September attacks being "an act of war" and so on. Therefore, in the chilling words of Pretzie's squinty henchman, Donald Rumsfeld, these human beings "have no rights." And because they are technically on foreign soil, they cannot avail themselves of the protections of the U.S. legal system. (Those not yet shredded by the Great Pretzel and John Ashcroft, that is.)
Thus the captives can be trussed up, tortured and killed at the pleasure of Jesus' favorite little sunbeam, Pretzie. However, the Pentagon has forbidden the national press to show pictures of the prisoners as they disembark in their wretched state. And what is the justification for this ham-handed censorship? It's simple, say the brass: Such media intrusions on the captives' privacy would be a violation of -- you guessed it -- the Geneva Convention.
That kind of virtuoso performance is hard to beat, but eager apprentice Blair gave the Master a run for his money last week. Blair made a lightning trip to India and Pakistan , where -- as the representative of the former colonial power whose policy of deliberately fomenting ethnic conflict played such a huge role in making the subcontinent the tense and dangerous morass it is today -- he preached peace to the stirred-up locals, urging them to solve their seething conflict over Kashmir .
Violence is not the answer to disputes about terrorist attacks and religious extremism, the gentle PM declared. Instead, both sides should emulate his own shining example. For Britain , Blair said, has now found its new purpose in the post-colonial world: to be a "calming influence" and a vital "force for good" around the globe.
Bold words. Brave words. And -- obviously -- a load of old bollocks.
As soon as Blair set foot back in Blighty -- having first stopped off in Afghanistan to visit the British troops stationed there as part of the West's violent response to terrorist attacks and religious extremism -- his government announced a push for a major foreign policy initiative.
Blair's minions are putting the squeeze on India to accept a $1.4 billion deal with arms merchant BAE Systems for 60 new jet fighters. This will no doubt have a very "calming influence" on the balance of power as the subcontinent teeters on the brink of nuclear war -- the same kind of calming influence gasoline has on fire.
Of course, if Blair can get those billion warbucks into BAE's coffers, Master Georgie will be very pleased. For one of BAE's business partners is -- God, this is almost too easy! -- our old friends the Carlyle Group. Faithful readers know that Daddy Bush -- the former peddler of poison gas to Iraq -- has long been feeding at the Carlyle trough, working his contacts with Saudi royalty, the bin Laden family, Asian dictators, South American junta honchos and other respectable characters to cement sweetheart deals for the Reagan-Bush retreads who skim the cream off Carlyle's $13 billion nest egg.
Thus some of the blood money Blair hopes to gouge for BAE will eventually trickle down to Bush's pocket, after Pa joins the Choir Invisible -- a pretty hefty chunk, in fact, considering how Georgie sliced inheritance taxes last year.
Pretty clever, huh? And you thought he was too stupid to feed himself. Listen, Bush may not know how to operate a pretzel, but when it comes to lining elitist pockets with loot, that boy don't miss a trick.