By Ramin Mazaheri
The clip of George W. Bush’s attempt to condemn Russia’s military operation in Ukraine but instead referring to his own autocratic warmongering in Iraq exploded across the internet.
I saw the clip and, perhaps like many, watched it several times in succession. I even found myself returning to it several more times. There is so much to be said about it, and it says so much. It perfectly sums up where we were 20 years ago, the state of the world today, the political gullibility of many, decades if not centuries of US history, counterposes the absolutely different last century of Russian history, the ability of Western politicians to so easily wave away their failures no matter how atrocious, and - well, like I wrote, it says so much.
Much, much later I was finally reminded of a similar incident in February 2013 involving then-US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran.
Kerry was in Paris on his first overseas trip as Barack Obama’s new foreign minister, having replaced Hillary Clinton. Add in Bill Clinton and this paragraph contains the Democratic Party’s power brokers since 1992.
I was covering the visit for PressTV, and it was only after a careful reviewing of his answers about Iran that I realised that Kerry had made a shocking Freudian slip. He was responding to a question about the importance of dialogue between nations:
“Richard Nixon, at a time when we had no relationship with China, that they were great dangers, had the courage to send Henry Kissinger and made a decision which opened up China and (which is now) a member of the P5, and now works with us in concert to try to implode put the sanctions in place to deal with Iran.”
The thing is, whoever paid for Kerry’s failed 2004 presidential campaign against W. Bush still got their money’s worth - he is truly a professional: in a lightning flash he rushed out “put the sanctions in place” to cover his initial admission of “implode”. It was so fast I honestly didn’t even catch it the first time I watched.
Nobody else caught it, but PressTV and I ran a report on it, titled US Foreign Minister Kerry talks of trying ‘to implode’ Iran in another overseas gaffe. It’s right here at the 0:40 mark of our report.
“Try to implode” Iran - that’s truly always been the goal of the US. That’s what sanctions have always been about. It was great to finally hear the top US diplomat openly admit it, if only by accident.
Watch the clip - it feels just as vindicating as it was seeing George W. Bush admit, “The decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq. I mean of the Ukraine. Iraq, too. Anyway.”
But the vindication in both is not a righteous one - at least for me - but a tragic one, filled with a nostalgic, deeply sad sense of what could have been but was not allowed to be.
If Twitter existed in 2013 I didn’t know about it, but our report didn’t go viral.
February 2013 was so long ago that an interim agreement for the JCPOA on Iran’s nuclear energy program hadn’t even been signed yet, much less the final agreement. In 2022 Iranians are still - still - waiting for the JCPOA to start and for efforts “to implode” to stop. (Of course, it’s not really “implosion” when the combustion is provided from the outside.) If I could guess the real feelings of Western politicians regarding this deadly delay I think they would likely use Bush’s phrase, “Anyway.”
This week saw the first visit to Iran by a UN human rights expert in 17 years, a stunning delay.
“During our visit, we were able to identify (the) devastating humanitarian impact of sanctions," said Alena Douhan, the UN special rapporteur focused on the impact of unilateral US sanctions.
I suppose this has to qualify as progress. Probably not to the families of those who died because of the sanctions.
I’m sure that in a few more years we’ll get a viral clip of Obama making a gaffe about the deadly impact of sanctions on Iran and laughing, “Anyway”.
In 20 years I'm absolutely certain French President Emmanuel Macron will make a slip regarding his brutal weekly repression of the Yellow Vests and he’ll just laugh it off and add, “Anyway”.
Ukraine could be roasted in nuclear fire before the 2014 Minsk Agreements were respected by the West, and as the geiger counters are still going haywire 20 years later politicians across the entire West will laugh it off and say, “Anyway”.
The signed JCPOA has still proven to be less valuable than the ink which was used to sign it - the West is simply not “agreement-capable”. The idea that belligerence belonged to W. Bush - but not Obama or Biden - is egregiously nonfactual. If you find that too biased a conclusion then feel free to give your own analysis: just a bit more lobbying in Congress is needed, it’s all Donald Trump’s fault (remember 20 years ago when everything was supposed to be all W. Bush’s fault?), please wait for the new administration in Washington to get settled, Biden really does mean well, etc.
Western-led institutions are discrediting themselves as fast as the internet can now publish proofs of their failures. The UN was told to wait years before allowing an unbiased effort which examined the effort to implode put the sanctions in place on Iran. The Persian Gulf War II was based on a total lie. The European Union is not breaking with the foreign policy of Washington, as Tehran has long hoped, but is gleefully gutting their own 99% for years to join a war drive against Moscow.
What the W. Bush clip shows most of all is: how bankrupt the words and policies of Western politicians truly are, and because they reflect the needs of their elite and not of their people. The problem should not be placed in their culture, but in their aristocratic Liberalist structures. That is not only what allows them to make such heinous crimes and to escape domestic accountability, but which propels them even to make such belligerent efforts in the first place.
Tehran has to realise that the EU is a completely Liberalist - and thus oligarchical - structure. It was rammed through undemocratically from start to finish, with national referendums first being ignored and then totally bypassed - I know, I know: “Anyway”. My point is that the EU is not going to break with the US over Iran while also going along with the US on Russia.
The US and EU are obviously working in perfect tandem, and especially since the Lisbon Treaty of 2009 finally, firmly installed the power of the undemocratic pan-European project. I go back to what I wrote in that February 2013 report on Kerry’s visit: “Since rejoining NATO in 2010 France has marched in lockstep with the US, regardless of international perception.” It’s not that things don’t ever change, it’s that they have only gotten worse in Europe since 2009.
It’s not Tehran’s fault - the failure to pursue diplomacy logically implies a choice to pursue war, and that would be wrong and shameful. Like choosing not to implement the JCPOA. Or the Minsk Agreements. Or choosing to go to war in Iraq. Or choosing to go to war with Russia.
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. His new book is ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values’. He is also the author of ‘Socialism's Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I'll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.