I don't like to strike a personal note here, but for more than two years, I've been getting angry emails from people about an article I wrote in June 2003: God's Errand Boy: The Revelation of St. George. The story, which appeared in The Moscow Times and CounterPunch, was taken from a Haaretz piece which told of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' report to his colleagues of his recent summit with Bush and Sharon. Abbas said that Bush declared: "God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me, I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."
I thought the story was a perfect example of the religious megalomania that Bush has often exhibited, believing that his murderous conquest of Iraq and the torture he inflicts throughout his Terror War gulag are God's will. I did make one error in the original report, writing "Here are Bush's exact words," when I had earlier noted that this was of course a second-hand quote, Abbas' recollection of Bush'swords. A couple of readers rightly took me to task for this, and it was corrected in all subsequent appearances of the article (and in the Empire Burlesque book). But most of the critical emailers simply refused to believe that Bush would ever say such a thing: I was just a fringe crank without any credibility writing for obscure publications, peddling Ay-rab propaganda, indulging in baseless Bush-bashing -- and besides, didn't I know that Bush's own spokesman had denied the story? Case closed! And so on. I don't know where and how often this article has popped up on the internet, but I've gotten such emails as late as last month.
Today, that obscure fringe-crank outlet known as the BBC announced a "major three-part series" -- Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs -- which features this very conversation. The earlier account of Bush's declaration of his divine mission is confirmed on film by both Abbas and Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath. In the film, Nabil Shaath says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"
The BBC story was supposed to embargoed until later tonight, but someone else broke it and it's all over the net, so you can take a gander at it now: God told me to invade Iraq, Bush tells Palestinian ministers.
An excerpt from the original column I wrote in June 2003 is here:
And this is the mindset – or rather, the primitive fever-dream – that is now directing the actions of the greatest military power in the history of the world. There can be no doubt that Bush believes literally in the divine character of his mission. He honestly and sincerely believes that whatever "decision" forms in his brain – out of the flux and flow of his own emotional impulses and biochemical reactions, the flattery and cajolements of his sinister advisers, the random scraps of fact, myth and fabrication that dribble into his proudly undeveloped and incurious consciousness – has been planted there, whole and perfected, by God Almighty.
And that's why Bush acts with such serenity and ruthlessness. Nothing he does can be challenged on moral grounds, however unethical or evil it might appear, because all of his actions are directed by God. He can twist the truth, oppress the poor, exalt the rich, despoil the earth, ignore the law – and murder children – without the slightest compunction, the briefest moment of doubt or self-reflection, because he believes, he truly believes, that God squats in his brainpan and tells him what to do.
And just as God countenanced deception on the part of Abraham, just as God forgave David for the murders he ordered, just as God blessed the armies of Saul as they obliterated the Amalekites, man, woman and child, so will He overlook any crime committed by Bush and his minions as they carry out His will. That's why Bush can always "do whatever it takes" to achieve his goals. And by his own words to Abbas, we see that he places his election in 2004 above all other concerns, even the endless bloodshed in the Middle East.
So what new crimes will the Lord have to countenance to keep His appointed servant in power?.