Monday, January 01, 2007
ELEMENTARY...MY DEAR WATSON: IT WAS THE TYRANT, IN THE BASEMENT, WITH A ROPE
Saddam Hussein was just the kind of brutal despot who is often promoted and protected (and sometimes installed) with the help of US foreign policy planning. Our leaders are still captives of Cold War mentality, a cynical policy that will not die, long after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Power for power's sake and resource wars recommend the occasional disposal of men as wicked as Saddam, if it ensures that the winnings taken by the Pentagon, the contractors and the looting class, can proceed undisturbed.
The Hideous Lie is the mother of ten thousand lies. The lie was sold to America, that a superpower is using a war of occupation to defeat terrorism in Iraq; here was Bush's fraud, as to who attacked America, a wild goose chase for WMDs, and with every prior excuse exhausted, a pious crusade for democracy. Yet Americans have learned the hard way about mass murder and the pornography of torture; they can see now the mortal enemies of US democracy, which at the highest levels are dereliction of duty, lawlessness in public office, and war-profiteering.
Bush and Cheney have conducted their war of horror, just as Cheney said they would, "on the dark side". They have built upon deception, secrecy, and fear, roughing up our already damaged political system, adding obsessive secrecy and surveillance, and fanning the flames of institutional corruption.
In 1984, the handshake caught in a photo, showing Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein, was not merely cordial or formal; it was a handshake of empowerment. When the Iran-Iraq war was raging, a war that would claim 1.7 million dead, it was Saddam Hussein who was killing his own Kurdish as well as Iranians with poison gas, and there was a disinformation campaign of epic proportion being orchestrated by the US State Department and White House. Hussein was not held to be responsible for his evident crimes against humanity, even though the hue and cry of human rights organizations was being heard everywhere. Those international groups were clearly fingering the Iraqi dictator. US officials were saying it wasn't clear who was using the forbidden weapon. For all they knew, it might be the Iranians.
The US Army of Occupation is still in Iraq, three years after the invasion, and 2006 is over. Saddam Hussein's services are no longer required. Iraq is in civil war. And it was only a few days ago that I saw on TV a scene from Baghdad: fire, rolling clouds of black smoke, pools of blood congealed on the ground beside the shredded debris of cars. And filling the screen there was one face still in shock, an Iraqi man whose words were translated on the spot: he was saying that the people of his neighborhood were being killed "like chickens in a slaughterhouse".
From Baghdad Burning, Riverbend, in her own words:
"The magnitude of this war and occupation is only now hitting the country full force. It's like having a big piece of hard, dry earth you are determined to break apart. You drive in the first stake in the form of an infrastructure damaged with missiles and the newest in arms technology, the first cracks begin to form. Several smaller stakes come in the form of politicians like Chalabi, Al Hakim, Talbani, Pachachi, Allawi and Maliki. The cracks slowly begin to multiply and stretch across the once solid piece of earth, reaching out towards its edges like so many skeletal hands. And you apply pressure. You surround it from all sides and push and pull. Slowly, but surely, it begins coming apart- a chip here, a chunk there."
"That is Iraq right now. The Americans have done a fine job of working to break it apart. This last year has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. There were too many blunders for them to actually have been, simply, blunders. The 'mistakes' were too catastrophic. The people the Bush administration chose to support and promote were openly and publicly terrible- from the conman and embezzler Chalabi, to the terrorist Jaffari, to the militia man Maliki. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional."