by Scott Loughrey
George Bush received the 1997 Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism from Johns Hopkins University on October 9.
No doubt Bush's recent years in public life prompted JHU's accolade, including:
- In 1988, while campaigning for the presidency, Bush, in perhaps the most negative campaign in U.S. history, used the racially divisive "Willie Horton" ads to paint his opponent as soft on crime.
- In 1989, the Bush administration invaded friendly Panama, ostensibly to arrest Manuel Noriega, who had been on the CIA payroll since the early 1970s. According to human rights groups this invasion killed between 3,000 and 4,000 people. In addition, U.S. forces used F-117A stealth fighters in combat for the first time, helicopters fired at buildings with only civilian occupants, a U.S. tank destroyed a public bus (killing 27 passengers), at least a hundred civilian residences were burned to the ground with many apartments destroyed, U.S. troops shot at ambulances and killed some wounded (some with bayonets), and denied access to the Red Cross.
- In 1991, (after thwarting diplomacy for five months following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait the August before), Bush started the Gulf War by ordering the attack on Baghdad. The early stages of the attack targeted the civilian infrastructure, (i.e., the power, sewage and water systems). The focus of the attack, according to author Noam Chomsky, was a deliberate form of biological warfare that had little relation to driving Iraq from Iraq-and everything to do with the US' long-term goals for that region.
- A Harvard University study taken two months after the conclusion of the "Gulf War" projected that 170,000 children under the age of five would die in the next year (1992) from the delayed effects of the US-led destruction of Iraq's electrical, fuel and transportation systems.
- After bombing Baghdad to smithereens the Bush administration mercilessly shelled defenseless Iraqi soldiers in the desert. To many foreign observers, the 100,000 victims killed (the Pentagon's estimate) were slaughtered in a cowardly massacre.
- In addition, thousands of Iraqi troops were buried alive by U.S.-led forces utilizing tanks with plows attached to their rears-a war crime. Thousands more Iraqi troops fleeing the continued shelling were shot from behind-a war crime. Hundreds of civilians fleeing the battleground, sometimes by running from their abandoned vehicles for their lives, were heartlessly strafed from the air.
- A deliberate bombing of a civilian air raid shelter in Baghdad killed 1,500 civilians, many of whom were women and children.
- Throughout the "Gulf War" the Bush administration rebuffed efforts by moderate Iraqi generals interested in obtaining help in order to topple (former Bush ally) Saddam Hussein, and restore democracy in Iraq.
- Immediately following the War what was left of Iraq's Republican Guard suppressed a Kurdish rebellion that Bush personally encouraged; approximately 25,000 civilians were killed while Norman Schwartzkopf, in the general area, signed autographs for his fans.
- In September 1991 the CIA, under the Bush administration's watch, assisted in deposing Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president of Haiti. Hundreds of innocents were immediately liquidated by the ruling junta.
- In 1994, the Iraqi government estimated that economic sanctions the U.S. pushed through the U.N. since the invasion of Kuwait had killed 400,000 children from malnutrition and disease.
For these reasons and many more JHU has found it in their hearts to honor Bush as one of the great humanitarians of our time. JHU, you see, has bills to pay. Its leaders undoubtedly feel the more closely JHU relates to powerful interests the more likely it will receive the green.
What is the City Paper's excuse for not making a stink of this shameful award? Its four line account of the award was devoid of irony. The Sun's tiny mention of the award reported only that Bush was recognized for his role in re-unifying Germany(!). The Chronicle, learning of the award as it went to press last month, mentioned this atrocity sarcastically in its "Hit List" editorial, but did not give the story the space it deserved.
Certainly Hopkins' absurd award to Bush for "humanitarianism," sullying Schweitzer's memory, deserved far wider analysis and criticism by the local media.