bardseyeview

A Shakespearean Glance at the People and Issues of the Day.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Tempest and Senator Rockefeller

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In The Tempest, Alonso, the King of Naples, is drowsy, as is his entire entourage. The group has been cast under a sleeping spell by the magic of Ariel, Prospero's sprite-like servant. Prospero, who is the dispossessed Duke of Milan, rules the island on which he has caused Alonzo and his snoring courtiers to be shipwrecked.

Alonso's brother Sebastian, absent when the spell was administered, arrives with Antonio, who is the current Duke of Milan and Prospero's usurping brother. With King Alonso's son Ferdinand presumed drowned in the shipwreck (actually he is off falling in love with Prospero's daughter Miranda), Sebastian, who would like to be King of Naples, and Antonio, who has already made himself Duke of Milan, consider the situation before them:

Ant: "…Here lies your brother,
No better than the earth he lies upon.
If he were that which now he's like, that's dead;
Whom I, with this obedient steel, three inches of it,
Can lay to bed for ever;…".

Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, considered the situation before him while being interviewed on a cable news show last Sunday. He repeated the now well-aired accusation that the Bush administration intentionally lied about Saddam Hussein's weapons program as a means of bringing our nation into war. Senator Rockefeller then made a bit of news, acknowledging a previously unrevealed conversation he held with Sabastian, I mean with Bashir Assad, President of Syria:

"I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi
Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads
of state that it was my view that George Bush had
already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq –
that that was a predetermined set course which had
taken shape shortly after 9/11."

It is to be noted that January 2002 (four months after 9/11) preceded any post-9/11 public speech on Iraq by the President and was long before Iraq was invaded. Syria was then and remains on the State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism. It is a country from which a large portion of terrorists active in Iraq emanate. And it is considered the prime candidate for where Saddam, in the run-up to the war that Rockefeller admits tipping Assad off to, would have hidden whatever weapons he might have developed.

Seb: "Thy case, dear friend,
Shall be my precedent; as thou got'st Milan,
I'll come by Naples. Draw thy sword; one stroke
Shall free thee from the tribute which thou payest;
And I the king shall love thee."

It is not my contention that Rockefeller and Assad conspired as consciously as Antonio and Sebastian. But given Rockefeller's admission, which was made voluntarily, after being withheld just as voluntarily for over two years, it is fair to ask the question: Who benefits?

Who benefits when Syria, a Baathist state and ally of Iraq, is secretly given advance warning from the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee of that chairman's opinion that the US has resolved to invade the world's only other Baathist state? Which political party today benefits from military reversals, real or perceived? Which party has benefited from the failure to discover weapons of mass destruction that, with the assistance of the Vice Chairman, may for all we know now be in Syria?

Like King Alonzo and his shipwrecked courtiers, the public is encouraged to doze, charmed by the Ariels of the network news broadcasts into a belief that their elected representatives always want is what is best for their country, and differ only on the definition of what that best may be (and that if there is an evil and deceitful exception to that rule, it must be the President alone, and not representatives like Senator Rockefeller, who constitutes it). Meanwhile, outside the charmed circle, plans continue:

Ant: "…Say this were death
That now hast seized them; why, they were no worse
Than now they are. There be that can rule Naples
As well as he that sleeps; lords that can prate
As amply and unnecessarily
As this Gonzalo;……………….
…………………........O, that you bore
The mind that I do! What a sleep were this
For your advancement! Do you understand me?"

Seb: "Methinks I do."
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