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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Man Of The People

So Bush paid a visit to Fort Hood, to make another sad-sack effort at retaining some shred of cred, after two years as the Botcher of Baghdad. It all starts with the shading of the facts, and Our Hero is not afraid to color outside the lines.

Bush thanked the soldiers at Fort Hood who have recently returned from Iraq or are heading there this fall, but said it isn't time to start bringing U.S. forces home yet.

"Iraqis want to be led by their own countrymen," Bush said. "We'll help them achieve that objective. And then our troops can come home with the honor they deserve."


There are a couple ways to look at this oversimplification. The obvious one is that Saddam Hussein is Iraqi; they were being led by their own countryman in the first place, though obviously in a horrific fashion.

This is an important distinction that Bush glosses over, as he always does. Let us stipulate that the current excuse for the war -- liberating the Iraqi people -- has validity; let's give the benefit of the doubt here. So what happens if the Iraqis get another tyrant? Are we going back in to re-liberate them? Highly unlikely; two things these guys are actually competent at is buck-passing and excuse-making, and Saddam set the bloodbath bar pretty high. That gives the next strongman a fair amount of leeway on the massacring of political/tribal enemies, especially if he plays ball.

Other things to keep in mind about this "countrymen" remark include the fact that the new president is Kurdish. Practically by mutual agreement (between Kurds and Sunnis) he is not a "countryman". Also, the Sistani faction running things is closely associated with Iran, and we'll see pretty quickly (probably once the British pull out of Basra) just how close. It's not terribly unlikely that Iran will be running the southern half of Iraq by proxy; the question really is whether they will wait for us to leave to make it easier on themselves, or bait us in the near future, to make us feel stuck there indefinitely again, and create more unrest here. Coupled with radically increasing gasoline prices, and the economic unrest that's sure to follow soon, the outlook seems pretty grim.


"If we can start to change the most powerful country in the Middle East, the others will follow," Bush said. "Americans 20 years down the road won't have to deal with a day like September 11, 2001."


The most powerful country in the Middle East?!?!? Is this fucking guy on glue? First of all, we were constantly reminded by the sneering "bring 'em on" advocates that Iraq was the "low-hanging" fruit. That might actually have been closer to the truth, as Iraq is literally surrounded by more powerful nations -- Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and Turkey all have air forces and conventional weapons (Saudi and Israel with American fighter planes, Turkey with American artillery). Israel and Pakistan are known to have nukes; Iran is probably close, thanks to Pakistan.

Though Saddam had kept up his luxurious lifestyle and enormous internal security apparatus, everything else in Iraq had been devastated by a decade of sanctions. Kuwait was probably a bigger Middle East power than Iraq by 2002; Syria almost certainly was as well. This is a flat-out lie, and Bush knows it -- Iraq was not even a middling power in the immediate region, and certainly not the most powerful.


Bush noted that on April 9, 2003 -- two years ago last Saturday -- a statue of Saddam Hussein that stood in Baghdad was pulled from its pedestal to the ground.

"The toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad will be recorded along with the fall of the Berlin Wall as one of the great moments in history," Bush said.


This is a repulsive and irresponsibly hyperbolic assertion for Bush to make. Tens of millions of people died horrifically under soviet communism (as well as Chinese communism, of course, but we're referring specifically to the Warsaw Pact countries here, in terms of the Berlin Wall). Hundreds of millions more lived horrifically under these regimes. This went on for nearly fifty years, with the entire world literally fearing nuclear annihilation via mutually assured destruction, and the US doing everything it could to legitimately counter this menace (including, of course, brutal and illegitimate proxy fights in Central and South America, Vietnam, and Africa). Whatever the case, the Soviets were a proven and hostile threat, who were aggressive in many theaters and definitely had real technological and destructive capabilities.

Compare with the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein. Hussein had been groomed as an asset for years, and while he curried much more favor with the Soviets than he did with us, we were never shy about working with him. We "knew" about all the weapons he supposedly had, because we had all the old receipts from back in the days when Rumsfeld flew over to personally deal with him.

Saddam was a vicious thug heading a cruel and brutal gang who got too big for his britches, but the fact of the matter is we cultivated him as an asset in a way we never would or could any communist dictator. Had Saddam not gotten a case of the stupids and attacked Kuwait, he'd probably still be in power right now, as brutal as ever, and we'd be making excuses about how it's not our problem and the next guy could be even worse and just drive your Excursion and shut the fuck up.

I remember watching the fall of the Berlin Wall, the spontaneous bursting of joy and passion and exultation that this cruel and mindless system of communism had finally collapsed under its own stupid weight. That was real people power; unstoppable, a moment that heralded a true rethinking of how the world would look at and do things.

I also remember the staged toppling of Saddam's statue; how it was filmed just right so that a couple hundred stragglers looked like an energized mob of democracy-whiskey-sexy Americaphiles; how an American flag was strategically placed over the head of the statue before it was oh-so-theatrically brought down. There was nothing spontaneous or people-powered about any of it; I only found myself surprised that there wasn't footage of American soldiers pissing on the statue or pretending to fuck it in the ass, just so we all got the message. Something about not messing with Texas, or freedom fries.

The point is, tyrants come and tyrants go. And as evil as Saddam and his sons and his henchmen truly were, it was one totalitarian system in one geopolitically crucial country that got out of our direct control. Someone needs to step up and explain to this fool why it's not the same, it's not even close to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and why it's as disgraceful for him to say so as it is for people to toss out "Hitler" or "Nazis" every time they find their political rivals disputatious.

I don't know if the troops all genuinely love Dear Leader, or if it's just their duty to respect whomever's in charge, or if it's yet another cherry-picked Bush crowd. Nor do I care. I do not buy into the notion that they know something about Bush that none of us does. We see how the man shamelessly lies to these troops and puffs up "his" achievements with nonsensical and off-putting exaggerations. The people on the ground deserve at least to be talked to truthfully by the armchair generals who cut their benefits and let their bankrupt families get tossed, even as they get sent back for yet another tour.

3 comments:

vonKreedon said...

Heywood - You keep talking down Sistani as being an Iranian proxy, but I think that you are wrong.

See Christian Science Monitor article:
Amid preparations for pivotal elections Friday in Iran - and later this year in Iraq - analysts see two Shiite visions of democracy vying for dominance. Some say the traditionally "quietist" clergy represented by Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is growing more influential at the expense of Iran's all-embracing system of clerical rule embodied by Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Also see Asia Times:
Even when Sistani rejects Khomeini's model of vilayat-e-faqih , he is not proposing the kind of secularism that US or any other Western politicians have in mind.

Indeed, this PBS piece would indicate that Sistani may have more influence on Iran than Iran has on Sistani:
DR. MOHAMMAD REZA KHATAMI: I think the behavior of Ayatollah Sistani has a very deep influence over the government of Iran and over the population and over the community of Iran.

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Tiket Pesawat Murah | Sari Jahe | Promo | Info Promo Diskon Hari Ini | Diskon | Promo Diskon | Harga Tiket Pesawat | Temulawak | Photo Prewedding | UPVC WINDOW | Kamera CCTV | Jual CCTV | Pasang CCTV | Minuman Suplemen | Tiket Pesawat Murah | Harga Tiket Pesawat | Tiket Pesawat Online

Ultrabook Notebook Tipis Harga Murah Terbaik | Harga Notebook | Ultrabook Notebook Tipis Harga Murah Terbaik | Harga Notebook | Kim Kardashian Bugil | wallpaper lucu | Ultrabook Notebook Tipis Harga Murah Terbaik | Info Terkini | Ultrabook Notebook Tipis Harga Murah Terbaik | Harga Notebook



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