To rephrase Euripides, those whom the state wishes to destroy, it first demonizes.
When the president of Chile was killed in the military coup d’état that brought Augusto Pinochet to power on 9th September 1973 (yes, that first, forgotten 9/11), ex post facto justification for the bloody coup and its equally bloody aftermath was provided by the content of the drawers in the dead presidents desk. Though never corroborated, there were alleged to contain proof of an imminent communist takeover, and evidence of drug taking and black magic.
Cut to Panama in December 1989, and the US invasion of Panama, ostensibly to take out strongman and erstwhile ally Emmanuel Noriega. There, in the ruins of the city, was Allende’s desk. The same communist literature, the drugs, the voodoo.
Cut to Mogadishu, Somalia, December 1992. US marines led a doomed UN intervention to take out the warlord. Mohamed Farah Aideed. Enjoy the folly in widescreen in Ridley Scott’s masterful Black Hawk Down. And although the villain decamped unscathed, guess what he left behind? Yes, Allende’s desk, contents intact. Actually, the desk had transformed into a bedside table, but the contents now included, shock horror, red silk pyjamas!
Communism. Drug taking. Black magic. And the sheer, un-American decadence of red silk pyjamas. The State Department pressed the hot buttons of white, Christian US morality to garner domestic support for its military adventures. The desk never came to light after the fall of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. No doubt the Serbian authorities kept is existence hidden.
And it was never found at Waco because it was no doubt destroyed in the fire of state retribution. But David Koresh, self-proclaimed millenarian prophet, with his apparently indoctrinated and deluded followers, his harem, and his guns, was singled out for treatment very different to that meted out to scores of likeminded and heavily armed fringe dwellers scattered across the USA. To paraphrase Colin Powell, they were demonized, they were isolated, and they were destroyed. And on prime time television too. In that land of paradoxes, few eyebrows were raised when gun-toting members of the KKK offered to assist the DFDA and FBI in their assault on the besieged compound.
When Navy SEALS swooped on Abbottabad in Pakistan to take out long-sought-after Big Bad Osama bin Laden, they took careful notes of the contents of his bookshelves. An eclectic collection of reading matter – and pornography. No kindles, no iPads, so no eBooks or ePorn, which just went to show what a tired, old, out-of-date codger he was at the end of his days. The Pentagon has yet to reveal what they found on Osama’s bedside table. Maybe that voodoo and witchcraft stuff? And Osama’s pyjamas?
Though they both bequeathed sumptuous palaces to their conquerors, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were both spared the indignity of their cupboards being laid bare. But they were both caught hiding in drainpipes, which may show that the restless ghost of Allende’s Desk may have be laid at last.
Rumours of the inevitable demise of current bogeymen Bashar al Assad, Vlad Putin and Abu Bakr al Baghdadi are exaggerated. And the Fat Controller of Korea is still entertaining the world with his eccentricities and imaginative executions. So what will it be? Desks or drainage. And the long arm of the law has yet to reach inside another famous public enemy’s Knightsbridge hideaway. Yet, being the on-line, wired chap that Julian is, we may be disappointed.
And so it goes, as Vonnegut’s Kilgore Trout often declaimed when mad things happened. The American way of preparing the nation and its friends for a military adventure. First select your enemy. Give him horns and a tail. The latter day manifestation of the Judeo-Christian personification of the evil Other, the Dark Side of us all, and the public swallows and follows…Because it supports their own value system, their own perception of self, their own identity, and thereby, they’re own interpretation of what is and what is not appropriate behaviour. Then, hang on for a bumpy ride!
Over to Jackson Brown: