The mountainous hands of a killer dressed in black

From the 6-14-98 Daily Sparks Tribune

Back in college, I attended speeches by Eisenhower administration CIA director Allen Dulles and Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.).

Goldwater espoused Republican Party virtue and defoliating the Vietnam jungle so that we could better get at them dirty reds.

Dulles, like his colleague and eventual Reagan-era successor William Casey, spoke in a growling monotone. Casey used this technique very effectively to drone on for hours in front of closed senate sessions. When the lawmakers had been properly put to sleep, he would slip in some innocuous line which later would cover his ass when some clandestine foreign intrigue blew up in his face and congressmen screamed they had been illegally uninformed.

I recall only two other things about Dulles: the big lie he told and his hugely grotesque hands.

"The CIA doesn't make policy, it carries out policy," he said.

Like hell.

Freelance foreign policy conducted by murderous spies results in American deaths to this very day. The Arab nations of the mideast hate us for our exploitation and political interventions on behalf of BigOil. We armed Saddam Hussein, then made war on him, killing hundreds of thousands and exposing our own troops to some as yet undetermined chronic maladies.

We used nerve gas in Vietnam but criticize Saddam for occasionally doing the same. It's pretty hard to be righteous when you leave bloody fingerprints.

Like the Picture of Dorian Gray, the hoary hands of Allen Dulles told a story.

His knuckles resembled irregular stalagmites growing like devil's dunce caps from drippings onto a cold cave floor. His bald pate, gnarled face and graying walrus mustache emulated countless cartoon versions of aging corporate monopolists manipulating their lessers like marionettes. Those craggy, mountainous knuckles would have been just right for hanging puppet strings.

At times, from my position on a college gym floor looking up at the old man, the height of the swollen joints on his huge, deformed digits actually obscured his face. At other moments, they looked like horns.

Fast-forward 35 years and it all makes sense. The hands were a warning to us kids in the audience, a palm reading which said beware of these men in black.

Ex-Jerry Falwell p.r. man Cal Thomas in his nationally syndicated column last week quoted from Goldwater's cold war canon "The Conscience of a Conservative."

According to Goldwater, "liberals...characteristic approach is to harness society's potential into a collective effort to compel 'progress'...I believe they fight against Nature."

Translation: collective is code for commie, Nature means God. How many people have suffered death and dismemberment because some self-righteous son of a bitch decided to speak for the Almighty?

The demonizing of the word "liberal" by Thomas and know-nothing shock jock Lush Rambo continues a tradition of treason which preceded even Goldwater.

"Liberal" has become the modern equivalent of "communist traitor." For the past half-century, anyone who dared oppose the generals was branded for not wanting a "strong national defense."

But we have never been concerned with defense, just aggressive offense. The Department of War was re-labeled the Department of Defense in order to better sell the American public into subsidizing profitable weapons production.

A lot of people waxed very rich in the name of fighting communism. When those dirty Russkies finally collapsed because we spent each other blind, Gen. Colin Powell had to invent the "two-front regional conflict" as a way to maintain military spending in the face of no discernible threat.

Alas, perhaps Powell was right. We are indeed threatened, but by our own hands — hands which increasingly resemble those of Allen Dulles.

Back in the '50s, the military-industrial complex, in order to maintain public relations momentum for nukes, thought up "Atoms for Peace." Walt Disney produced cute cartoons about the atom as our friend. We developed nuclear power plants to make weapons production more palatable.

As the world's greatest talk show host Travus T. Hipp once noted, nuke power plants are the most expensive way to boil water yet devised by man. We imposed nuclear technology on other nations as a way to build both political support and corporate profit.

Now, the nuclear genie is coming home to roost. We committed to become the dumpsite for the waste produced by those foreign nuke plants. Much of it will pass right through Sparks and Reno on the way to some final resting place.

We don't seem to have learned anything from the murderous hands of Allen Dulles. We have helped India, Pakistan, China and heaven knows who else acquire nuclear bomb making capability.

Now comes the ironic announcement that the Nevada nuclear test site will be used for anti-terrorism training. Good. Perhaps someone will be taught how to defend us from ourselves.

War addiction is like drug addiction: less profit would mean less of a problem. But as long as we are the world's armorer, providing weapons of choice to whomever can pay our price, we will continue to suck at that seductively lucrative crack pipe.

See the results for yourself. Go to the traveling Vietnam wall which carries the names of some 58,000 unnecessarily dead. Then tell me I'm wrong.

It will stand at Mountain View Cemetery in Reno until 8:00 Tuesday. Wear black and touch it with your own hands.

Be well. Raise hell.


Read more about it: Bitter fruit 50 years later
Barbwire 9-10-2006

Copyright © 1992, 2006 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of CWA Local 9413. He is a Reno-based syndicated columnist, a 29-year Nevadan, editor of U-News and campaign manager for Democratic candidate for Governor, State Senator Joe Neal.
Barbwire by Barbano has appeared in the Sparks Tribune since 1988.

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