The demented and spiritually tormented Congressman Tom DeLay, House Majority leader, begins his speeches with the words "good evening [morning/afternoon], or, as John Kerry would say, ‘bonjour’." This greeting is meant to indicate that Senator Kerry speaks French and is therefore un-American, unpatriotic and untrustworthy, and it is considered hilarious by many six year-olds. The French for ‘good evening’ is bonsoir, of course, but that doesn’t stop the militant Christian humbug draft-dodger DeLay trying to get a laugh by employing a pathetically unfunny catch-phrase. But what now, one wonders?–Because his hero, the man appointed to the White House by God (as DeLay and Boykin tell us is the case), has been recorded as using F-words.
"So I’m keenly aware of what’s in the papers, kind of the issue du jour", Bush told Bill Sammon, the Washington Times’ correspondent whose paper is serializing his book about Bush. My goodness : "the issue du jour". The man used a French phrase. Whatever next? Might DeLay be forced to listen to more unpatriotic utterances by this French-fry-loving, cheese-eating, frog-gobbling devotee of je ne sais quoi? (It is deliciously ironical that the central figure in a grotesque pedophile scandal in France at the moment is one Madame Delay.)
Bush does not actually read newspapers, except the sports sections. "I don’t watch the nightly newscasts on TV . . . I don’t read the editorial pages; I don’t read the columnists . . . I can scan a front page, and if there is a particular story of interest, I’ll skim it." During a nauseatingly obsequious interview with Fox TV on October 15, 2003, Bush admitted he relies for news on briefings by chief of staff Andrew Card and Condoleezza Rice. He asks Card: "What’s in the newspapers worth worrying about? I glance at the headlines just to kind of [get] a flavor of what’s moving [but] I rarely read the stories."
On that basis, the issue du jour might be difficult to identify, and this is only too believable. Because if Bush knew what is really going on in Iraq, rather than accepting the upbeat lying nonsense he is fed by Card, Rice, Rove, Rumsfeld, Cheney and the rest of the loonies running the White House asylum, he would have a very different view about where he is taking America.
Bush won’t have seen the latest hideous photographs that appeared in the Washington Post on May 21, for example. He won’t have seen the disgusting scene of a fang-bared attack dog with a white soldier-handler menacing a cringing Iraqi prisoner, which is so reminiscent of a black and white photograph of a white on black confrontation in May 1963. That picture, on page 38 of ‘The Best of Life’ (1973) shows an attack dog with a white police-handler lunging at a black man, while another tears at his pants’ seat. In 41 years of growth of freedom and development of justice in America, the only difference, dog-wise, as it were, is the place in which snarling attack dogs are used to terrify inferior human beings.
And Bush certainly does not know the true story of the massacre of wedding guests and villagers by US troops and aircraft in the tiny Iraqi hamlet of Mukaradeeb in the small hours of the morning of May 19. Nobody will tell him the real story, until at the last gasp it can’t be denied or glossed over (same thing, in White House tactics), when there will be a bit of absolutely useless damage control, just as in the prisoners’ torture scandal. In fact few US citizens know the real story because the only detailed western report is from Rory McCarthy of London’s Guardian newspaper.
Do you believe the indignant Major General James Mattis, commander of the Marines’ 1st Division when he said, in justification of the killing of 40 people, including 14 children, in Mukaradeeb : "How many people go to the middle of the desert 10 miles from the Syrian border to hold a wedding 80 miles from the nearest civilization? . . . These were more than two dozen military-age males. Let’s not be naA’ve . . . I have not seen the pictures [of the 14 dead children] but bad things happen in wars. I don’t have to apologize for the conduct of my men."
Apart from Rory McCarthy’s report, which we’ll come to in a moment, let’s examine this definitive pronouncement by Mattis. First, the wedding was indeed "in the middle of the desert" because the village of Mukaradeeb is in the middle of the desert. Mattis obviously does not know that people actually do live in the middle of deserts, but they do, because they are farmers and shepherds who also indulge in petty smuggling on the side, as they have done ever since arbitrary borders were drawn in the 1920s.
"80 miles from civilization", expostulates the sophisticated Mattis, must be a ridiculous and entirely suspicious place to have a wedding. No it is not. Well, not if you live in the particular village that is 80 miles from civilization. In fact, should you live in a tiny hamlet 80 miles from civilization (or what Mattis calls civilization), it is probably quite a good place to have a wedding. After all, if you were born there, and most of your family comes from there and from other desert hamlets scattered all along the border region, near wells and water courses that occasionally fill up and nourish "the middle of the desert", it is probably quite a reasonable place to have your wedding. As McCarthy reported, "The celebration at Mukaradeeb was to be one of the biggest events of the year for a small village of just 25 houses. Haji Rakat, the father, had finally arranged a long-negotiated tribal union that would bring together two halves of one large extended family, the Rakats and the Sabahs. Haji Rakat’s second son, Ashad, would marry Rutba, a cousin from the Sabahs. In a second ceremony one of Ashad’s female cousins, Sharifa, would marry a young Sabah boy, Munawar."
Has Mattis never looked at the Tactical Pilotage Chart for Iraq/Syria/Jordan (TPC G-4CG, for example), or any other map, for that matter? If he did he would see scores of little black squares all over the region, marked ‘buildings’, and lots of markings reading ‘cultivated area’, ‘numerous canals’, ‘ditches’, ‘settlements’, and so on, in all of which there are tiny un-named communities of people who are quiet and inoffensive (although smugglers, almost certainly), trying to exist as best they can in the circumstances in which they were born to live, marry, and bring up children. Or, in the case of Mukaradeeb hamlet, be killed by a brutal American assault.
There are also many villages actually marked with names : dozens and dozens of them, all with inhabitants living away out "in the middle of the desert", many of them being a lot more than 80 miles from civilization. (And if you think I seem to know a bit about this, you are right. I did a month-long camel patrol with the Jordan Desert Police Force in exactly the same terrain, just across the border from Iraq, when I was a young officer, many years ago. Little has changed.)
In the minds of such ignorant prats as Mattis it is, obviously, strange and suspicious that a man and a woman might want to get married in their own village, especially when it is 80 miles from civilization. Further, the moronic Mattis considers it unthinkable that their families might wish to invite relatives and friends from many other hamlets and villages in the area to attend the ceremony and rejoice–and meet with friends they perhaps haven’t seen for years–and generally have a good time, in spite of the chaos that America has wrought on their country. The families also paid for a band of musicians, and a singer from Ramadi, Hussein al-Ali, and much good it did him, because he was killed by the Americans, too.
Here, in the report of Rory McCarthy, is part of what happened.
"It was 10.30pm in the remote village of Mukaradeeb by the Syrian border and the guests hurried back to their homes as the party ended. As sister-in-law of the groom, Mrs Shihab, 30, was to sleep with her husband and children in the house of the wedding party, the Rakat family villa. She was one of the few in the house who survived the night.
‘The bombing started at 3am,’ she said yesterday [May 20] from her bed in the emergency ward at Ramadi general hospital, 60 miles west of Baghdad. ‘We went out of the house and the American soldiers started to shoot us. They were shooting low on the ground and targeting us one by one’. She ran with her youngest child in her arms and her two young boys, Ali and Hamza, close behind. As she crossed the fields a shell exploded close to her, fracturing her legs and knocking her to the ground. She lay there and a second round hit her on the right arm. By then her two boys lay dead. ‘I left them because they were dead,’ she said. One, she saw, had been decapitated by a shell. ‘I fell into the mud and an American soldier came and kicked me. I pretended to be dead so he wouldn’t kill me. My youngest child was alive next to me’."
Now : whom do you believe? Major General Mattis? Or Mrs Shihab? Which one was in the village that was destroyed? Whose children were killed by barbarians?
She was defenseless, and a US soldier came and kicked her. Mrs Shihab was lying in the dirt ; but some other people are lying in their teeth.
"I don’t have to apologize for the conduct of my men" says Mattis. Oh no? Not even the one who kicked a defenceless woman? This seems to be the concrete mindset of the occupying forces’ commanders–that they do not have to even examine evidence before pronouncing their verdict that "I don’t have to apologize".
General Mattis said he had not seen the photographs of mutilated dead children, yet denies culpability. "Bad things happen in wars", says this piece of mind-boggling filth. "Bad things"? Is Mattis a father? Can he imagine the depths of despair of fathers who have seen their dead infants hideously disfigured by his planes and soldiers? Perhaps not ; because these fathers would be young men, of course. And all the dead men in the village, according to Mattis, were "two dozen military-age males", who, naturally, couldn’t possibly have been wedding guests enjoying themselves. The fact that they were "military-age males" means they had to be–they must have been–terrorists. This is the way the Nazis rationalized their behavior when they destroyed villages and murdered their populations in France and Poland.
And rest assured that the Mattis line will be the one being peddled in the White House by the advisers and news-interpreters to Bush. Even when it is proved that there was indeed a massacre, Bush will be fed a few lines to say in public, just as he was with the torture photographs, and then he will move on to something else in his vote-catching regal tours in Air Force One around the country, paid for by the American taxpayer.
I leave you with some more of Rory McCarthy’s report. It says more than anything else about the war crimes being committed. Yes ; WAR CRIMES. It is terrible to have to say that America is committing War Crimes in Iraq.
" The party ended at around 10.30pm and the neighbours left for their homes. At 3am the bombing began. ‘The first thing they bombed was the tent for the ceremony,’ said Mr Nawaf. ‘We saw the family running out of the house. The bombs were falling, destroying the whole area.’ Armoured vehicles then drove into the village, firing machine guns and supported by attack helicopters. ‘They started to shoot at the house and the people outside the house,’ he said. Before dawn two large Chinook helicopters descended and offloaded dozens of troops. They appeared to set explosives in the Rakat house and the building next door and minutes later, just after the Chinooks left again, they exploded into rubble. ‘I saw something that nobody ever saw in this world,’ said Mr Nawaf. ‘There were children’s bodies cut into pieces, women cut into pieces, men cut into pieces.’ Among the dead was his daughter Fatima Ma’athi, 25, and her two young boys, Raad, four, and Raed, six. ‘I found Raad dead in her arms. The other boy was lying beside her. I found only his head,’ he said. His sister Simoya, the wife of Haji Rakat, was also killed with her two daughters. ‘The Americans call these people foreign fighters. It is a lie. I just want one piece of evidence of what they are saying’."
Bush might prefer to get the "news du jour" through the filter and interpretation of his sycophants, but it would serve his country better were he to read honest and accurate reports of what is going on in the land he invaded and has destroyed. He has dishonored his own country, and, alas, he has set an example to his armed forces that has resulted in conduct that I would never have thought possible on the part of Americans in uniform.
BRIAN CLOUGHLEY writes on military and political affairs. He can be reached through his website www.briancloughley.com