The real story is being eclipsed by the big story, which really ought to be a non-story, or at least one less in my face day after day. A husband wants to remove his wife, who is in a vegetative state and no longer a person in the conventional sense of the word, from artificial life support. The president, Florida governor brother Jeb and an array of politicians smelling political advantage and pandering to their religious social base, support the woman’s parents, indignantly oppose court rulings and affirm that only God has the right to take vegetables back unto Himself at the time He chooses, working in His mysterious ways. They want Terri alive, or at least on TV, as the real story of importance remains at the margins of popular consciousness.
We view this macabre death-watch—this tremendously sad human-interest story, which should be a marginal story—about the unnaturally delayed demise of one young woman, while ignoring the death-march of Bush plans for Iraq. We hear repeatedly that "democracy is on the march in the Middle East," as though this were true in Lebanon or elsewhere, or connected with the lock-down elections in Iraq January 30. On page A8 of the Boston Globe this morning ("Schiavo family vigil nearing end" was front page news) the maybe, maybe-not next prime minister of Iraq Ibrahim al-Jaafari says what he’s been saying for weeks: "God willing, the government could witness its birth in the coming few days."
With all due respect to those who believe them identical, I think Bush’s will is more operative here. Bush and other administration officials have stated several times, because they must, that should a sovereign elected Iraqi government ask the U.S. to remove its forces from Iraq (which according to a Zogby poll last December, 82% of Sunni Arabs and 69% of Shiites favor), it will indeed withdraw them. But Bush in his wisdom has prophesized this will not happen, and that troops will remain as long as it takes to train Iraq’s army. Meanwhile the U.S. establishes Iraqi bases designed to be permanent, and to respond to "threats" in Iran, Syria, or anywhere within convenient bombing range, confident that the Iraqi government will bless their presence.
To fulfill Bush’s prophesy, the U.S. must make sure that the unpunctually anointed regime indeed will state, with fulsome praise for the American liberators, that a U.S. military presence is indeed indefinitely welcome. But the reality-based community knows that Shiites risked death to vote two months ago, not because they wanted to legitimate the occupation with that balloting ritual so trumpeted by the U.S. corporate press (and so pathetically manipulated to suggest that U.S.-style "democracy" is now on a roll from Georgia to Kyrgystan due somehow, mystically, to our brave troops’ actions in Iraq), but because they thought it would hasten those unwelcome troops’ overdue departure.
The Globe’s AP story refers to "desultory talks" which "have dragged on" between different Iraqi parties who participated in the January circus, as though the incomprehensible petty byzantine politicking in that part of the world involving groups that all look alike and are all Muslim anyway somehow worked against the universally applicable principles of American democracy and "freedom" which Bush has stated is given by God to all peoples. I suspect that in fact, with 150,000 troops on the ground, U.S. officials are all over this "Iraqi" process, so opposed by those Iraqis whom they in their Orwellian arrogance term "anti-Iraqi" because they want the U.S. out of Iraq. (Amazing to see the straight faces of these officers talking about "anti-Iraqi" Iraqis, and about "foreign troops" from Arab countries in an Arab country with borders drawn by western imperialists.) Seems to me the announcement of the puppet regime line-up is delayed by the U.S. requirement that the new ministers adequately support U.S. military and corporate goals for the nation and region.
So let me too prophesy, aware that should my prophecy not come to fruition, the people may come to doubt prophecy in general. But this is what the Lord’s telling me, personally, through dreams, visions, and internet communications: There will indeed be a government of Iraq announced in the next few days, because the Iraqis are getting angry at this inexplicable delay. It will have the appearance of some independence, and will even criticize the occupation forces to some extent, by prior arrangement with them, to garner credibility. But it will indeed state that U.S. forces are welcome and necessary to deal with the "insurgency" and train Iraqi forces. There will be widespread disillusionment among the Shiites who voted. There may even be some disillusionment with al-Sistani, depending on how faithfully he follows God’s will. U.S. plans for Iraq will crumble in a growing, ideologically diverse uprising against the occupation. But the bases will remain, and will be used for actions in Iran and Syria following the Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities this summer. By that time Terri Schiavo will be in heaven and some similar human-interest story on the front page of the Globe and People Magazine.
* * * * *
On page A15 of the Washington Post this Easter Sunday, we find a fine discussion of the history of U.S. policy towards Iran’s nuclear energy program. It should be on the front page, because it clearly reveals that the relentless push for a confrontation with Iran is all bullshit, which might be news to millions of people. It quotes top officials’ statements that Iran doesn’t need and shouldn’t have a nuclear program, period. "They’re already sitting on an awful lot of oil and gas," says Dick Cheney. "Nobody can figure why they need nuclear as well to generate energy." This is a another bald-faced Cheney-lie.
Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were all officials in the administration of Jerry Ford that, according to the article, "endorsed Iranian plans to build a massive nuclear energy industry, but also worked hard to complete a multibillion-dollar deal that would have given Tehran control of large quantities of plutonium and enriched uranium—the two pathways to a nuclear bomb." Some of these officials figured out at the time that since the Shah was Washington’s boy, and since he wanted to sell his oil and gas to fund his particular vision of Iranian development, and since his nuclear program could generate huge profits for U.S. corporations, the program would be an excellent thing.
Some of us humble non-officials have figured out that Washington simply wants regime change in Iran, in accordance with the "New Strategy to Secure the Realm" and "New American Century" scenarios, and will distort the truth as required to achieve that goal. The line trotted out to the American people is this: Iran, being evil, shouldn’t have a nuclear program. The program’s very existence is threatening. If Iran becomes able to enrich uranium, it will acquire nuclear weapons, which should so scare Americans that they should rally behind all U.S. (or Israeli) efforts to undermine the Iranian regime.
What’s really going on here is that the administration has hit on what it thinks is a winning formula. It says to the American people, directly and through paid and unpaid agents in the controlled corporate press, that a certain nation supports terrorism, hence is terrorist, hence can pass on nukes to terrorist organizations, hence can pull off another 9-11. So say, Hizbollah gets a nuke from Iran and suddenly a mushroom cloud appears over Manhattan. Scary indeed, enough to gather the masses behind any attack anywhere in the world. Then to that world, which remains skeptical of the argument, the administration says: "Look, the Israelis, our friends and the only democracy in the Middle East, constantly embattled by Islamic terrorism, regard Iran’s acquisition of the ability to enrich uranium as an existential threat to their state. They will attack this year, unless we do. The attack is a given. Where are you going to stand? We need to revise the Non-Proliferation Treaty to specifically deny Iran what the Netherlands and Japan have: the right, by international law, to master the nuclear cycle. And then we’ll take joint action after the predictable collapse of your talks with Tehran to produce regime change. Got it?"
Maybe enough Europeans will be cowed into accepting this logic, or coaxed through the promise of shared spoils to cooperate with the next stage of Southwest Asia regime change plans. Maybe the war will spread, with France on board trying to bring order to its former turf, Greater Syria, as the U.S. deals with the chaos following an attack on Iran. Again I prophesy, hopefully in error. But if such comes to pass in those days, I further prophesy that the people affected will resist, visiting hell upon the pawns of U.S. imperialism sent to "defend" the latter against more Middle Eastern mirages. Truth like a mischievous jinni will ultimately out. The iniquitous bearing false witness will fall from grace, as people who can think and can see that truth, and who know how to pull out their plugs appropriately do so.
GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.
He can be reached at: email@example.com