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Iraq around the Clock
( Nov. 5, 2003)
    Iraq is not the United States.
        I want to make it into a bumper sticker.
        To listen to the Bush administration, to read the papers every day, to watch the news. . .you'd think that Iraq is just around the corner from Wisconsin. Or squeezed between Kansas and Nebraska. That it was admitted to the Union sometime around California. That Baghdad won the Series, beating the Yankees (well, not yet, anyway.) Maybe Lincoln was born there.
        Iraq Iraq Iraq Iraq. All Iraq, all the time. All the Iraq that's fit to print. I raq, you raq, we all raq for Iraq. Iraq, can you see, by the dawn's early light? We will, we will Iraq you! We're gonna Iraq around the clock tonight.
        Iraq is not the United States.
        We have a country to look after. Guess what: it isn't Iraq.
        Remember: the "war" was supposed to end quickly, and the Iraqis were supposed to greet the invaders as liberators. So said Dick Cheney, vice-president of Iraq---er, the United States.
        Remember: Iraqi oil was supposed to pay for the rebuilding of the country, and barely tax Uncle Sam's till. So said Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense of Iraq---e, the United States.
        Remember: this administration has already spent $82 billion on Iraq, and is trying to spend $90 billion more---thanks to George W. Bush, president of Iraq---er, the United States.
        Has this country gone off its Iraq-er? What do you care about Iraq? Have you been there? Did you grow up there? Did you take a vacation in Baghdad recently? Did Iraq perpetrate 9/11? (Answer: no.)
        Here is the administration's original Iraq-solid ploy: Saddam threatened the world with "weapons of mass destruction." No, no---not Oprah Winfrey---I mean things that are even worse: nasty germs and nuclear bombs. Dick Cheney declared that Iraq had "reconstituted" its nuclear program, and all the SUVs in the USA promptly hoisted flags. Now Tricky Dick says he um, "misspoke"---there were no nukes, after all. And no WMD of any sort have been found.
        (Well, that isn't quite true. They did find a test tube of botox, which is a WMD used by many Beverly Hills women to combat the tyranny of "smile lines.")
        If any WMD are discovered, it seems likely that they will threaten nothing other than Iraq---or maybe Israel and Iran. One of the long-forgotten headlines from this story, after all, is that Saddam actually destroyed a couple dozen missiles in the weeks leading up to the Iraq attack. Imagine that: a "bloody dictator," as Condoleezza Rice likes to say, destroying his very expensive pride-and-joy WMD delivery system---under orders from the "irrelevant" (Bush's term) United Nations.
        Between Iraq and a hard place, the administration fell back on pretext number two: morality.
        It was morally necessary, went the Iraq music, to remove a "bloody dictator," a "brutal dictator," an "evil dictator," a "murderous dictator," a dictator who picked his nose, and so on. No, not Rupert Murdoch---Saddam.
        Morally necessary? The U.S. is in the business of morally policing the planet? It's our duty to go out there and depose every unsavory government? Isn't this the opposite of what Republicans have chanted for decades? Ah, but that was before the "Christian" right began directing foreign policy under President Born Again and Rev. Condy, who once led the White House staff in worship services aboard Air Force One.   
        (Sing it with me, now! Iraq of ages. . .)
        Under the morality argument, U.S. military forces would be engaged all over the world, 24-7. We would be fighting China, North Korea, and occupying half the countries in Africa. Our military forces would be engaged until. . .well, how shall I put this? How about until the U.S. rules the world? Of course, this pretty well describes the "doctrine of preemption," the neocon First Commandment. (The key syllable in "neocon" being "con.")
        Yes, it was "our" moral business to depose Saddam, claimed the neocons. Of course, these same people did business with Saddam for decades---from the moment "we" helped put him into power until the late '90s, when one of Dick Cheney's subsidiaries was still doing business with Baghdad; until just before the so-called war, when Iraq was still exporting oil to the U.S. It was also "our" (and Britain's) business to sell this "bloody dicatator" the chemical weapons he used in his set-to with Iran.
        Moral duty? Hyp-Iraq-risy.
        Funny, but the first President Bush cannily suspected that Iraq was not really part of the United States. He long ago rejected plans to invade and conquer this sorry little place; rejected the "neocon" agenda altogether: to take Iraq, thus establishing a major permanent U.S. military presence in the Middle East and grabbing some oil (message to scoffers: please read about the neocon template, "Project for a New American Century," where this is clearly spelled out.)
        Bush I also rejected delusional Vietnam-esque "domino" talk popularized by Bush II: that once Iraq embraced democracy, surrounding countries might join the freedom train! Bush I was clever enough to realize that invasion and occupation would fast become a Vietnam-esque quagmire. Here is his salient quote, from his 1988 memoir, "A World Transformed."
        "Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."
        Bush II is not as smart as Bush I, but this doesn't matter, as he is not running the country, merely doing the bidding of Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, chief spook Richard Perle (all signatories of the PNAC), the "Christian" right, and the neocons---many of whom have long-standing strong ties to Israel's right-wing Likud party. Israel's security being a not-so-hidden agenda in this masquerade "War on Terrorism"---a "war" that has yet to take on the perpetrators of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. (And Israel, it might be noted, is not the United States, either.)
        Last week, Bush II Iraqed the world by claiming that all the recent killing is a sign of progress; that the increasingly successful murder of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians shows that the "enemy" is growing "desperate." Right. So "desperate" that somebody shot down a chopper over the weekend and killed 16 G.I.'s, most of whom were kids. Bet their parents are feeling a little "desperate" about now.
        The president's response? He explained, for those who cannot read, think, see, or hear, that Iraq is "a dangerous place." Rumsfeld added the revelation  that this is "a rough business." Meanwhile, more reservists are being summoned to risk their lives for the Bush administration, and get this: draft board vacancies are being filled across the nation! That's correct, your child could one day get a mandatory vacation in the desert.
        The capper? This staggering comment from Iraq---er, U.S.---deputy secretary of defense Wolfowitz: "(Campaign debate about Iraq) sends a very unsettling message to Iraqis that our elections might decide their future."
        Yes, Wolfowitz wants Democratic candidates to stop discussing Iraq, because it might make the Iraqis nervous! In other words, let's suspend the bulwark principle of this democracy---free speech---so as not to worry the Iraqis! Or hey, why not just suspend elections altogether?
        The Wolf-man, in other words, implies that public debate of Iraq is downright er, un-Iraqian.
        I mean, un-American.
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