Wednesday, January 10, 2007


So the revised master plan calls for more sacrifice -- from everyone but the people who got us into this mess, and the people profiting the most from it.

But new public opinion polls found the US public believes the March 2003 US-led invasion was a mistake and broadly opposes sending more soldiers to a battlefield where more than 3,000 of them have already died.

A USA Today/Gallup survey taken Friday through Sunday showed 61 percent opposed a troop increase, compared to 36 percent who supported it. Forty-two percent said they strongly opposed a temporary troop surge, and 19 percent moderately opposed the idea, it found.

Approval of Bush's handling of the Iraq situation stood at 26 percent, a record low, according to the survey, which had an error margin of plus or minus three percentage points.

And almost half said they believed that no matter how many troops might be sent, the United States cannot achieve its goals, the survey showed.

Another poll by CBS television found that just 18 percent wanted to see more US troops in Iraq, 17 percent favor current levels, 30 percent sought a decrease, and 29 percent called for a complete withdrawal.

The "sacrifice" that's being "asked" for is merely a restatement of the same contemptuous declarations. Americans are being told to put up with more of the same nonsense, lies, and incompetence, despite making their opinions on the subject quite clear at the ballot box, as well as the consistent trend of polls. (Really, "incompetence" doesn't quite cover it. Criminal negligence or depraved indifference would be more accurate.)

We have already sacrificed our common sense and trust in these venal people. They are so utterly corrupt and mendacious that it not only beggars the imagination, but paradoxically becomes almost mundane upon close scrutiny, because it is readily apparent that it is practically an involuntary reflex with them, like the beat of a heart or the drawing of breath. This has been consistently demonstrated by their actions -- Bush repeatedly used his ground commanders as cover for his failures, until they started openly disagreeing with him. So now they have been replaced, and the new generals are already voicing tacit doubts about the realism of a "surge", a "bump", or an "escalation".

It is too late for any of that, and the numbers don't reflect the requirements on the ground anyway. So these professional military careerists have sacrificed their life's work for Junior's folly, and his inability to admit error. Iraqis have sacrificed their lives, their livelihoods, their society for years to come, because the smart guys in their undisclosed locations prayed real hard and decided they knew better than anyone else. The result? Not only did they actually manage to make Saddam look like a martyr, not only have they now empowered the very same thugs who have killed scores of American troops, but they managed to test the notional insanity that some things could actually be worse than Saddam Hussein's blood-soaked mafia running the country. Now it is hell on earth, on the verge of becoming a failed state, perhaps to be pulled back from the precipice by whatever gang of theocratic murderers manages to claw their way to the top of the heap of mutilated bodies.

Is that enough "sacrifice" for the armchair chin-strokers as they postulate their next big Stratego move?

Nobody named Bush or Cheney will be "sacrificing", not with their lives, their wallets, their job prospects. Oh, we may not see another Bush darkening the door of the West Wing for some time, but you can be sure that wherever there's a grift to be had, a palm to be greased, a well-heeled back to be slapped, a Moonie ass to be kissed, a madrassa-supporting sheik to be coddled, there'll be a Bush, with Cheney's rictus behind him and his hand up his ass. There's no shortage of Bushes to be trained for the next generation of partying, running other people's businesses into the ground, and finding a spot at some government trough. It's the surest bet this side of Bill Bennett's video-poker machine.

And speaking of not sacrificing, the oil companies will fare quite nicely out of this, as if such an outcome were ever in doubt:

Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.

The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.

The huge potential prizes for Western firms will give ammunition to critics who say the Iraq war was fought for oil. They point to statements such as one from Vice-President Dick Cheney, who said in 1999, while he was still chief executive of the oil services company Halliburton, that the world would need an additional 50 million barrels of oil a day by 2010. "So where is the oil going to come from?... The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies," he said.

Oil industry executives and analysts say the law, which would permit Western companies to pocket up to three-quarters of profits in the early years, is the only way to get Iraq's oil industry back on its feet after years of sanctions, war and loss of expertise. But it will operate through "production-sharing agreements" (or PSAs) which are highly unusual in the Middle East, where the oil industry in Saudi Arabia and Iran, the world's two largest producers, is state controlled.

Opponents say Iraq, where oil accounts for 95 per cent of the economy, is being forced to surrender an unacceptable degree of sovereignty.

Proposing the parliamentary motion for war in 2003, Tony Blair denied the "false claim" that "we want to seize" Iraq's oil revenues. He said the money should be put into a trust fund, run by the UN, for the Iraqis, but the idea came to nothing. The same year Colin Powell, then Secretary of State, said: "It cost a great deal of money to prosecute this war. But the oil of the Iraqi people belongs to the Iraqi people; it is their wealth, it will be used for their benefit. So we did not do it for oil."

Supporters say the provision allowing oil companies to take up to 75 per cent of the profits will last until they have recouped initial drilling costs. After that, they would collect about 20 per cent of all profits, according to industry sources in Iraq. But that is twice the industry average for such deals.

Well, that's certainly a relief. As long as Halliburton and Shell and the rest of them get their fair share of the big prize, I guess that's what really counts, right? That it gets couched in the rhetoric of futility, of trying once more to square the circle, is apparently incidental. And if perchance we happen to get duped by our new Shi'a buddies into helping them settle old scores with their enemies and their enemies' clans, well, there's your ever-expanding omelet. Eggs everywhere.

What's most galling is the steadfast refusal of the base to acknowledge reality, gleefully at that. One might expect them to be at least regretful about their vicarious sadism, their retributive fantasies of blood and fire spewing forth from Grabthar's hammer or whatever the fuck it is they wank to. This will be yet another last chance, until the can is sufficiently kicked to the next suit, nothing more than scooting the deck chairs around still again, while people who know absolutely nothing about the people we invaded continue to make dumb decisions based on compromised information and bad faith.

Bush will get his way on this, because he has the poker face of the true believer. Either he gets some miniscule benefit of half-hearted doubt, and figure he genuinely believes he has four aces, or he knows better and he's just a ruthlessly cynical bastard. If he really is just bluffing the Democrats just long enough to pass the buck, I don't even know what to say; it's obviously beneath contempt.

The best we can hope for here is for the responsible opposition -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- to at least insert some sort of accountability lingo into this mess. There are no more Friedmans with which to keep dicking around and fumbling for light. Some sort of contingency plan should be appended to this desperation measure, and then hung about the neck of the fools who got us into this, once and for all.

No comments: