FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Say, Waiter, Where’s the Blood on My Margarita Glass?

by ALEXANDER COCKBURN

The new year promises a rich manure of hypocrisy and bad faith. Take the current tumult here in the US about the UN high command and the oil-for-food imbroglio, which right-wing columnists are gnawing on with relish. There are no good guys here, just vistas of corruption and bad faith stretching into the distance.

Certainly, weep not for Kofi Annan, whose servility toward the imperatives of Empire was comically revealed in the very same press conference where a pertinacious journalist extorted from the reluctant Secretary General the grudging admission that the war on Iraq was illegal. Later on, Annan offhandedly invoked “our allies,” a term that should be alien to the lips of any UN Secretary General, but that accurately reflects political realities.

The private dealings of the Annan family may well be fragrant with corruption, but it’s hard to get too excited about alleged skims off the oil-for-food deals, against so vivid a backdrop as hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, many of them infants, being starved to death or dying for lack of suitable medicines under the UN sanctions commanded by the United States.

On one calculation by Jude Wanniski, if sanctions had been lifted in 1991 Iraq would have collected $126 billion in oil revenues in the fourteen years thereafter, thus paying off its international debts and feeding its population. PR-wise for the United States, the sanctions were dire enough in terms of killing defenseless Iraqis that the oil-for-food program was installed in 1996, benefiting, among others, the Kurds, who have fine representation in Washington and who were to get a big slice of the oil revenues.

From his side, Saddam was able to organize oil-revenue kickbacks to the Iraqi government from some customers which weren’t filched by the program’s supervisors in New York. So what? Any capable leader in the same situation would have done likewise. But of course the neocon lobby here, through such willing conduits as Senator Norm Coleman, the New York Sun and that diva of drivel from the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, Claudia Rosett, have hyped the oil-for-food “scandal” as a way of somersaulting the war lobby past the great disaster of 2004, the nondiscovery of WMDs.

The second rule of propaganda is that when the first Big Lie explodes, immediately make up another one. Vigilant students of last October’s report from the US government’s Iraq Survey Group, headed by Charles Duelfer, on the nonexistence of WMDs noted that Duelfer tried to shift attention from the embarrassment of nonapparent WMDs by suggesting that they were not only eternally immanent but also imminent as long as Saddam Hussein led Iraq, because he might well have used revenues from the oil-for-food program to ramp up his old WMD programs. Of course, the Bush Administration pounced on this morsel, and the neocon press has been chewing on it ever since.

It would take the brush of Hieronymus Bosch to do proper justice to the moral darkness prevailing in the New York residence of Richard Holbrooke, as the man who vied with Joseph Biden to be John Kerry’s Secretary of State assembled a posse to rub Annan’s nose in the UN’s woes, and proffer Mark Malloch Brown as the savior. Brown, whose private lobbying roster has included such clients as the ineffable and unlamented Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada of Bolivia, will now return to UN HQ as US-designated commissar at Annan’s elbow, just in time to prompt the Secretary General to acclamations for whatever result issues from the elections in Iraq at the end of January.

On the topic of the Beast of Baghdad, January’s Esquire brings an interesting article by Sara Solovitch reporting her discovery that Jumana Hanna’s accounts of rape and torture at the hands of Uday Hussein don’t appear to have the intimate connection to reality trumpeted by the Bush Administration and by such reporters as Peter Finn of the Washington Post, who promoted her in the Post in July of 2003.

Hanna poured out her story to many eager ears belonging to Finn; Bernard Kerik (surely an expert in mendacity); a New Jersey Superior Court Judge called Donald Campbell, who was the coalition’s top legal adviser; Paul Wolfowitz; Hanna’s shrink, Paul Linde; and finally Solovitch, who was hired to co-write Hanna’s story. Solovitch says she began to entertain some doubts when pondering Hanna’s claim to have received an MA in accounting from Oxford, but somehow put off making a simple phone call to Oxford till she had spent a lengthy period of presumably well-paid toil checking other aspects of Hanna’s story.

I could have saved the publishers a wad of money. In atrocity stories there are some things that don’t ring true, even when dealing with such well-credentialed butchers as Saddam and his sons. Take the story, subsequently identified as one concocted by a Western intelligence agency, that Uday had put some of his victims through a wood chipper. Anyone using these chippers knows the damn things jam if inconvenienced by anything with a diameter larger than that of a stick of asparagus, let alone an Iraqi human, however scrawny. Uday’s chipper, whose origin can probably be traced to a scene in the movie Fargo, just didn’t pass muster, same as the incubator story from the first Gulf War, first identified in this column as intrinsically preposterous.

Among the horrors of Uday’s boudoir divulged by Hanna to many, including Solovitch, was the following:

“She was raped for days. A virgin when she entered, she heard the guards ask “Master Uday” what he wanted to do with her blood. He ordered them to sprinkle it around the rim of his whiskey glass like salt on a margarita.”

That’s the point at which any person equipped with minimal power to suspend willing belief should have said, “Oh, come on!” No call to Oxford would have been necessary. But then, there’s no ear more credulous than the one that yearns to believe.

 

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 08, 2016
John W. Whitehead
Power to the People: John Lennon’s Legacy Lives On
Mike Whitney
Rolling Back the Empire: Washington’s Proxy-Army Faces Decisive Defeat in Aleppo
Ellen Brown
“We’ll Look at Everything:” More Thoughts on Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
John Stauber
The Rise and Fall of Obamacare: Will the Inside Story Ever be Told?
Ted Rall
Ameri-Splaining
Michael J. Sainato
Mainstream Media Continues Absolving Itself From Clinton, Trump Election Failures
Ralph Nader – Mark Green
Divest or Face Impeachment: an Open Letter to Donald Trump
Gareth Porter
US Airstrikes on Syrian Troops: Report Data Undermine Claim of “Mistake”
Martha Burke
What Trumponomics Means for Women
Ramzy Baroud
Fatah, Hold Your Applause: Palestinian Body Politic Rotten to the Core
Steve Horn
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Attorney General Pick, Introduced First Bill Exempting Fracking from Drinking Water Rules
Joe Ware
The Big Shift: Why Banks Need to Stop Investing Our Money Into Fossil Fuels
Juliana Barnet
On the Ground at Standing Rock
Franklin Lamb
Aleppo Update: An Inspiring Return to the Bombed Out National Museum
Steve Kelly
Hidden Harmony: on the Perfection of Forests
December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail