Hypocrisy is the least of their crimes

George Bush gets a bum rap. If you match words and deeds, his hypocrisy is undeniable. But judged on actions alone, he and his crew are models of consistency.

Their words on fighting terrorism are familiar, but what counts are civilian deaths in Iraq, the leveling of cities, and thousands jailed, humiliated, tortured and killed. What counts too is the sanctuary they provide for archterrorist Luis Posada Carriles.

U.S. authorities were silent for two months about his well-advertised arrival in Miami, and then, having detained him on May 17, they politely charged him with a minor immigration offense. He is, of course, both an assassin and a servant of the U.S. government.

His misdeeds are well known. He worked for the CIA for three decades. He killed and tortured for Venezuelan state security services, bombed a Cuban airliner — killing all 73 persons aboard, helped out with the murder of a Chilean ex-diplomat in Washington, organized supply operations for Nicaraguan Contra rebels, bombed hotels in Havana — killing an Italian tourist, and plotted to kill Fidel Castro in Panama. For the Cubans, he is the “Osama Bin Laden of Latin America.”

Posada escaped from jail in Venezuela, where he is a citizen, in 1985. Now Venezuela is demanding his return. So far, the U.S. government is refusing delivery. An extradition treaty between the two nations has been in effect for many years.

The U.S. government not only inflicts terror and protects the terrorist, but also attack those who fight terrorism. Five Cuban men joined Florida paramilitary organizations that kill and commit sabotage against Cuba. They passed on advance knowledge of anti-Cuban plots to their government. The Cubans shared the intelligence with the FBI, because for a moment in time Washington was promising to crack down on the Florida terrorists. Instead the U.S. arrested the five men. After a trial filled with irregularities, three of them received life sentences.

“From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” President Bush said on Sept. 20, 2001. Clearly Bush’s words and deeds do not square. It’s our duty to spread the word about Bush hypocrisy.

We need to highlight a few facts. The Cuban anti-terrorists are fighting U.S. imperialism. In Chile, Pinochet terrorism, urged on by Washington, undid the elected, anti-imperialist Allende government. Kissinger gave the go-ahead that allowed Suharto’s massacre of half a million Indonesian communists in 1965. And the list is growing.

The Bush government would like political struggle to wither away. In a fear-ridden U.S. society with a fetish of anti-terrorist rhetoric, the field is left to demagogic notions of revenge and politics of cultural divide.

In an earlier era, Lenin noted, “Calls for terrorism … are merely forms of evading the most pressing duty now resting upon the Russian revolutionaries, namely the organization of comprehensive political action.” For mainline politicians today, no less than for revolutionaries, the sway of politics by terror limits their possibilities.

Lenin advised revolutionaries to “go among the population as theoreticians, as propagandists, as agitators, as organizers.” In doing so, attention to objective realities is essential. The message to progressive and left activists and organizers is twofold: the U.S. government itself superintends terrorist operations that cover the world, and the purpose of terror is empire. To fight terror and defend the anti-terrorists is the same as contending with imperialism.

What Lenin prescribed for a revolutionary political process happened in Cuba. Perhaps that’s why the Cubans don’t frighten easily. Elements of the Iraqi opposition use terrorist tactics. Maybe that’s one reason why, so far, they have not organized “comprehensive political action.” They are different in that regard from Vietnamese anti-imperialists.

W. T. Whitney Jr. is a pediatrician in rural Maine.