FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

On Digging a Hole and Crawling In It

by DAVID VEST

American troops found a guy who looked a lot like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn hiding in a spider hole in Iraq.

The word “grotesque” means “out of a cave.”

“Good riddance,” said an oddly prescient G. W. Bush, employing the same phrase millions will no doubt utter the day he leaves office. If he returns to his ranch in Texas sooner rather than later, voters all over the country will run through the streets wearing T-shirts emblazoned with G.W.’s likeness over the words “We got him!”

Saddam may have looked like a displaced Russian novelist on Thorazine, and why not? We are told he spent his last days in power putting the finishing touches on a new novel about himself leading an underground resistance movement to victory against an occupying force.

Forget Solzhenitsyn, Saddam is straight out of Nabokov, who knew more about the psychology of the self-deluding fool than anyone (with the possible exception of Henry James). Go and rent Fassbinder’s 1979 film of Nabokov’s “Despair” and let Dirk Bogarde explain the likes of Saddam to you without of course ever mentioning him.

No one will ever mistake G. W. for a novelist, nor is he much of an actor. Indeed, no president has had less to say and more trouble saying it. He has dared come forth from his own hiding place to confront the press only four times this year. Bush, who overwhelmed a crumbling, virtually defenseless opponent only to begin behaving as though he had just won the War of the Worlds, was wearing no disguise when last seen, not even a borrowed flight suit. He looked exactly like himself as he smirked his way through a press conference and a victory lap with Diane Sawyer.

While G. W. witlessly gloated (“when the heat got on, you dug yourself a hole, and you crawled in it”), others were scowling on his behalf. William Bennett, the chain-smoking former drug czar and easily the most dishonest-looking man in America, turned up on cable calling outright for Bush to torture Saddam, put sharp sticks under his fingernails, and so forth, until he comes up with weapons of mass destruction. (If they really wanted to torture Saddam they would force him to read The Book of Virtues.)

So what if Saddam is getting no better than what he had coming to him. I’m more worried about what we’ll all get, down the road, as a result of the administration’s actions.

Whether or not he is a prisoner of war, Saddam is, or was, after all, a Head of State.

Is it inappropriate to ask how we would want an American president to be treated if he or she were ever to fall into enemy hands and be accused of crimes against humanity?

(I agree, it is unthinkable. Still, let us think it.)

Would not Americans demand that even the worst commander-in-chief be treated with respect, and not a hair on that old gray head harmed?

Would we not also feel that however they were treating our president, they were treating our country?

Twenty years ago Donald Rumsfeld was photographed grinning and hugging his friend Saddam Hussein. Now Rumsfeld’s army is holding our former employee incommunicado at an undisclosed location, interrogating him without witnesses. Assuming that the arrangement is not, contrary to appearances, designed more to keep him from telling what he knows than to encourage him to unload, can information produced under those circumstances have a shred of credibility?

One imagines Saddam sitting there, even now, dreaming of Mars bars and salami and outlining his next ghastly novel in his head, no longer able to distinguish his life from his dissociated legend.

Meanwhile people with close ties to the administration go on television and call for the prisoner to be tortured. No one in authority is telling these people to shut up. Why should they? Their leader has already expressed his preference for the “ultimate” punishment.

It’s pretty hard to get worked up about humane treatment for Saddam Hussein. I’m not too worried about it myself. Frankly, I don’t care what happens to him.

However, here’s the thing. If the worst have no rights, neither do the best.

By his own testimony, G. W. Bush’s favorite philosopher is Jesus, who said “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Buddha said that, too. So did Dr. John the Night Tripper (“what goes around comes around”).

“You dug yourself a hole, and you crawled in it.” Words that Bush used to describe Saddam’s attempt to hide from capture. Words that sadly may also be used one day to describe Bush’s adventure in Iraq.

* * *

(Apologies to William Faulkner, who said of Dreiser, “No writer ever had more to say, and more trouble saying it.” And thanks to “outfidel,” who first suggested Saddam’s resemblance to Solzhenitsyn in a newsgroup posting.)

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, just released a scorching new CD, Way Down Here.

He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com

Visit his website at http://www.rebelangel.com

 

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
Norman Pollack
Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics
Kevin Martin
Nuclear Weapons Modernization: a New Nuclear Arms Race? Who Voted for it? Who Will Benefit from It?
David Mattson
3% is not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
Howard Lisnoff
The Person Who Deciphered the Order to Shoot at Kent State
Nick Pemberton
Make America Late Again
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail