Thursday, October 06, 2005

Voices Inside My Head, Echoes of What You Said

Cue The Police

So, there's a story that's getting some traction again (hat tips to EO and El Jeffe) about George Bush and the voice of God that he hears, telling him to spread freedom, etc., which is related in a new BBC documentary special next week:

In Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, a major three-part series on BBC TWO (at 9.00pm on Monday 10, Monday 17 and Monday 24 October), Abu Mazen, Palestinian Prime Minister, and Nabil Shaath, his Foreign Minister, describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003.

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.'"

Abu Mazen was at the same meeting and recounts how President Bush told him: "I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state." "

Scottie McC says that this is "absurd." But this story has actually been around the block before. And thankfully, writer Mitch Cohen sifts through the sands of time to remind us:

Not that I'd doubt McClellan's truthfulness or anything, but it seemed to me, if memory served (which is always a crapshoot), that Shaath was merely corroborating what Abbas himself had said initially. So, I tracked down my own reference to it in a column I'd written for the Clarion-Ledger back in April of 2004:
Most troubling to this writer, however, is his extra-extra-Biblical pronouncements, weaving a Biblical, and at times Apocalyptic language into the majority of his speeches and scheduled remarks, whether below the radar or on open display. He often speaks of America, and by extension himself, in messianic terms. In a conversation with former Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas, Bush claimed God instructed him to strike Saddam. He spoke of a Crusade to defeat the Evildoers. He has cast the fight against terrorism as a battle of Good versus Evil and nothing less. He, of course, leads the forces of Good. On September 14, 2001, he said "our responsibility before history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil." Rid the world of evil?
But working backwards, I verified my own source of the information asan article in the Israeli daily Haaretz from nearly a year before that, June of 2003, in the days following the Aqaba summit. Snatched from the memory hole....

And the information that time was coming directly from Palestinian PM Abbas:
Abbas said that at Aqaba, Bush promised to speak with Sharon about the siege on Arafat. He said nobody can speak to or pressure Sharon except the Americans.

According to Abbas, immediately thereafter Bush said: "God told me to strike at al Qaida 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."
Just for clarity's sake, might I suggest some enterprising reporter ask PM Abbas to comment on the matter?


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