War with Boy George Bush: Ian William
and dishonorable." That’s how Republican Senator John
McCain, a POW for five years during the Vietnam War, described a recent
TV spot criticizing John
Kerry’s military service.
"When the chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry," Vietnam
War veteran Larry
Thurlow proclaims in the ad.
was so disgusted with the anti-Kerry comments, he called on the
White House to condemn the commercial. The White House declined.
think John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam,” McCain said
afterward. “I think George Bush served honorably in the Texas
Air National Guard during the Vietnam War."
killing contrast!” says Ian
Williams, The Nation's UN
correspondent and author of Deserter:
Bush’s War on Military Families, Veterans, and His Past. If
you read between the lines of McCain’s response, the Liverpool-born
Williams says, “he has a very Brit style of put-down on Bush.
Kerry did his service in Vietnam and Bush…well, Bush also served
in the Texas National Guard."
as pro-Bush figures dredge the memories of veterans for stories to
attack Kerry's war record, whatever the truth of the stories they
have waited 35 years to share, they confirm one thing" Williams
says. "Kerry was in Vietnam, in combat. Not
even the best investigators that GOP billionaire money can buy has
found a veteran who can credibly assert they saw George W. Bush in
any military capacity whatsoever, in Alabama let alone in Vietnam,
for twelve months, let alone anyone who fought alongside him.”
go back to a time when the chips were down for Boy George Bush — back
to the days of the Tet Offensive, the North Vietnamese military
action that began in January 1968. Although, the Viet Cong suffered
heavy casualties, they scored a surprising moral victory after 19
VC soldiers fought their way onto the grounds of the American embassy
was a “chips are down” year for America. It was a time
to stand up and be counted, either on the front lines of war or
on the front lines of protest. Yet, it was during this pivotal point
in our history that Boy George Bush decided to dodge involvement
by applying for service in the Texas Air National Guard.
wasn’t just any old point in the war,” says Williams, "This
was when, on the face of it, the US was reeling. It was a traumatic
time for the US military and George Bush’s reaction was ‘How
can I get the hell out of this?’”
today, when US National Guard members are serving in Iraq, enlisting
in the National Guard in 1968 meant one thing: a free pass on Vietnam.
So, while John McCain was held captive in a prisoner of war camp
and John Kerry was volunteering his service to the US Navy, Boy
George Bush bailed.
is Bush’s slacker attitude during the Vietnam War avoided
by the mainstream press?
lot of editors think this ground has already been plowed, planted,
and harvested and there’s no further work. That’s what
the White House wants us to think. Most the time they are playing
the press as suckers,” Williams says. “One of the reasons
this issue never came up in the past is that George W. Bush was not
by any means the sole beneficiary. The Air Guard unit he joined was
known locally as “Air Canada,” because it offered all
the benefits of a trip north of the border and none of the political
and climatic problems associated with it. Half of the Texas rulers
had their children in Air Canada. Lloyd Benson’s son was one
me get this straight. Kerry was serving two tours in Vietnam. McCain
was spending two years in POW hell — solitary confinement.
Boy George Bush used his daddy’s pull to play war in Air Canada,
yet the GOP says that you can’t count on Kerry. Isn’t
it Bush, who we can’t count on? Isn’t Bush a deserter?
think legally, yes,” Williams says. “At the height of
the war, he pledges to do his National Guard service for six years
in return for not being drafted and sent
to Vietnam. For one whole year he disappeared.
Even the records that mysteriously appeared after his service was
called into question, confirmed that for one full year George W.
Bush saw no active duty. He seems to have ignored with impunity orders
to turn up at bases in Alabama. He failed to turn up for his flight
medical. By failing to accomplish his medical, he lost his pilot
the chips were down, Bush One served his country in World War II.
What accounts for Boy George's undistinguished military career?
don’t normally go into Freudian stuff," says Williams, "but
the real issue here between the two Bushes is that George Bush Senior
was, as far as we can tell, pretty much a genuine war hero. He pulled
strings to get into the war early — at the age of 18 straight
from prep school. He actually saw combat and was shot down. I think
that Little W has wanted to emulate his father, but he didn’t
want to make any sacrifices for it. That’s sort of typical
of a spoiled frat boy. He wanted to be a war hero without going to
war and, in a sense, he’s become a virtual
war hero. You have to look at Saddam Hussein or Fidel Castro
to find a leader who is so fond of military uniforms.”
does the military think of the frat boy, today?
is appealing not so much to the real military, but to the
military as the repository of Republican virtues,” Williams
says. “There’s a strong current in American society that
says that veterans who have given to their country deserve more afterwards.
Bush apparently doesn’t feel that way. He has treated veterans
shabbily. He’s tried to close down the Veterans Administration.
He’s tried to cut down on benefits. He’s tried to cut
down on their medical treatment — all of this while he’s
posing and wrapping the flag around himself as a champion of the
Williams quotes Romaine
Rolland, the 1915 Nobel Prize-winner for literature who at the
outbreak of World War I said, “I find war detestable. But
even more detestable are those who praise war without participating
dishonest and dishonorable — that’s what I’d call
Boy George Bush.
— Nathan Callahan,
August 5, 2004