José, Tony, George and the chief of Portugal

We are a great nation.
We are the finest people on the face of the earth.
– George W. Bush

Sunday evening. The television is tuned to CNN for some reason, and I’m spoon feeding one of the small people in the sofa, trying to catch any spark of sanity should it emanate from the glowing cathode ray tube in front of me.

Four middle aged men, each one in dire need of a cold beer, something to be proud of out in the garage and a good time with their respective women. Getting drunk. Fool around. Get laid. That sort of thing.

We already had a war. Now try something else.

My mind starts to wander off. It’s a Saturday and I’m a small pub somewhere in England. It is late June, and the retired paratrooper who drove me and my friends here through the downpour talks about Suez and 1956. He explains in painstaking detail about jumping out of the transport plane and into the baking oven that is Port Said. He tells me that USA vetoed Britain, France and Israel’s military action to take the Suez Canal back from Nasser. They vetoed in the UN Security Council. Apparently, there was a quite a disagreement.

The aging soldier explains that yes, of course there was a disagreement. The CIA staged a coup to rid Egypt of the British puppet King Farouk, replacing him with the infamous General Nasser. When Nasser turned against his employers in Washington, they tried twice to assassinate him without succeeding. He then simply proceeded to declare the Suez Canal his own private property. Or something.

The solution in this case was unfortunately not your ever-present neighbourhood bully.

Sailing around Cape Town is terribly inconvenient when all you want is to go to the Persian Gulf. I can certainly agree to that. The captain on the aircraft carrier that shoehorned itself through the Suez Canal a couple of days ago also probably agrees.

There’s Tony. To the left of him is José, and to the left of him again is George. The last guy is the chief of Portugal. He’s the owner of the island they are on. What’s his name again? He says nothing.

My mind wanders off again. It’s a Friday and we’re heading towards Tel Aviv in a taxi. Muhammed is driving us into town for sixty hours of rest and recreation while telling us about Syria. We hear the story of how the CIA staged a coup, instating some army general as president. When he denied running mid-east errands for uncle Sam, the protectors of the free world staged a couple of Syrian coups without getting anywhere.The general’s name? Husni Za’im.

Syria is in the UN Security Council now.

I put my kid to bed and sing him a song about how good all the rabbits in the world are sleeping. He doesn’t know where the Azores is, and he probably never will.

This time my mind stays put. Instead, I walk over to the bookshelf and the computer to see what they have to say on the matter. Turns out they had a lot of info on US “policy” and the Middle East. With all these failed attempts, I wonder how many actually worked and why they think it’s going to work this time.

See for yourself.

The USA and the CIA and the Middle East.

  • 1953: CIA overthrows elected leader Mohammed Mossadegh from Iran. What do the world get instead? Reza Shah. Yup, the Shah. It all ended dreadfully in 1979 of course.
  • 1958: Lebanon gets a brand new pack of leaders, installed by the CIA. They stopped shooting at each other in 1991. Right on.
  • 1958: In a chaotic period of coups, murders and counter-coups, all mounted by the British and the CIA, one Saddam Hussein ends up as the Iraqi leader. More on him later.
  • 1960: After the CIA engineered the assassination of Egyptian president Abdel Nasser two years earlier, they needed a new guy. They got Anwar Sadat. Since he’s so corrupt and nobody seems to like him, he dies in a spray of Kalashnikov bullets in October 1981.
  • 1969: Libya’s King Idris - another British puppet ruler - is replaced with Muammar Qadaffi by the CIA. Nice move. When Qadaffi raises his oil prices and declares that Libya is being robbed of their oil by the west, Washington stops thinking of him as “our guy”.
  • 1980: The US and the British helps Mr. Hussein with money, intelligence, weapons and training so Iraq can invade Iran. Iranians, after all, were really bad guys.
  • 1983: In order to get rid of the Syrian influence in Lebanon, CIA attempts to install yet another regime in Beirut. It ends with 450 kgs of TNT exploding, the death of 309 US Marines and almost the entire resident CIA staff. Way to go.
  • 1986: US assassination attempt on Muammar Qadaffi. The one with bomber planes fail, as well as the three ones involving CIA-trained Libyan exiles. Hard to get good people these days.
  • 1996: Saddam is really getting on CIA’s nerves, so they set up Iraqi exiles to assassinate him. Saddam infiltrates the plot and the whole thing collapses. CIA’s entire Iraqi network of spies is rolled up, and CIA’s boss loses his job.

George is on the screen now. He says that tomorrow is the moment of truth.

George, I think the moment of truth was years ago.

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