The Grand Illusion
That incriminating "smoking gun" memo proving the Bush and Blair Administrations pre-determined an invasion and occupation of Iraq long before the invasion occurred has apparently come and gone, barely noted in the American press, AWOL from editorial pages. Eighty-eight brave members of Congress signed and sent a letter authored by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) asking President Bush to answer questions about thesecret U.S.-UK agreement to attack Iraq first reported in The Sunday Times of London on May 1, 2005.
Will the Democrats’ letter receive a response? Will our Sleeping Beauty White House Press Corpse press for answers to the letter’s questions from President Bush and his parade of smoke-blowing B.S. jugglers? (And — sidebar — Is there a more wasteful administration game of spin-the-bottle than the Scott McClellan press briefing? Media advertisers should be ashamed that reporters are paid handsome salaries for dalliance time in this wink-and-nod charade.)
As extremist "religious" political zealots continue to mount hellfire publicity campaigns over abortion, gay rights and pack-the-courts strategies, where are the voices of outraged patriotic Americans who should be calling en masse for a Watergate-style investigation of the Bush Administration’s lies, deceptions, cover-ups and apparently-illegal actions that have sucked and suckered the nation into a never-ending undeclared "war" in the Middle East? Given their recent winning-is-everything aura, it is too much to ask any know-better Republicans to pursue this matter, even as some Democrats insisted on facts and truth from Bill Clinton, whose "smoking gun" evidence was a dress that sent no Americans to die for kin and country.
The American Street has effectively tuned out the din of torture, wounding, death and destruction flowing daily from Iraq. Assassinations of thirty, fifty, four-hundred Iraqis barely cause a ripple in the nation’s collective conscience. Unless thirty, fifty, four-hundred American soldiers are obliterated at a time, the public will sleep-walk thorough each day, unperturbed by a national media that ignored or buried the damning British memo in an effort to protect Americans from having to think about anything but "nuclear options," privatization and far-more crucial and attention-getting headlines such as "Small Plane Scare Evacuates White House." Even mass American casualties may not be enough to jar this Wal-Mart Generation from its appointed buying spree.
On her recent headline-grabbing visit to Baghdad, Secretary of State Rice urged critical voices to back off. "If I could say one thing to all of us in the United States of America . . . it is that we need to be both more patient with people who are making these early steps, less critical of every twist and turn, less certain that every up and down is going to collapse the process, and more humble on about long it has taken us to get to a multiethnic democracy that works," said Rice as reported by the Associated Press.
By all means, Dr. Rice, let your arrogant administration be "humble." ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. But as for the public to be "less critical," how much less critical can the nation (including most Democrats) be than they have been so far? True, the Internet is filled with articles such as this one that repeatedly point to the facts and evidence spelling out the truth of an ill-fated adventure to demonstrate America’s power to "shock and awe" the world into conformity. Preaching to the Choir won’t bring justice, won’t ring the alarm bell of accountability.
The Baghdad stop-over gave Secretary Rice an opportunity to once again intone those magic words that US troops "will remain active in Iraq until Iraq is able to defend itself." What does this mean, exactly? Will Iraq ever be able to "defend itself"? If the almost-sufficiently-equipped Pentagon force and its dwindling Coalition of the Willing are unable to dim the "insurgency" with their tanks, helicopters, planes and other state-of-the-art weaponry, how can a reasonable person conclude even well-trained Iraqs could do so with far-less equipment and supplies?
Will the Bush Administration (or any future administration) furnish a new Iraqi military with the latest in armored vehicles, tanks, helicopter gunships, jet fighter planes, rocket artillery sufficient to defend that country against attacks both domestic and foreign? Do camels have wings?
The Department of Defense web site contains an Iraq Year In Review (Current to January 21, 2005). Here are some listed facts:
Iraq’s Air Force has three operational squadrons equipped with nine reconnaissance aircraft that operate both day and night, and three US C-130 transport aircraft. One more squadron, comprised of two UH-1 helicopters (to be followed by 14 more and by 4 Bell Jet Rangers from the UAE), will stand up later this month.
Iraq’s Mechanized Police Brigade recently completed training and will begin operations in mid-January, using fifty BTR-94 wheeled, armored vehicles.
Enormous amounts of equipment have been delivered to Iraqi Security Forces since 1 July:
* More than 69 million rounds of ammunition, with another 148 million recently received and put into twelve ammo storage areas around the country * 70,000 pistols
* 49,000 AK-47s
* 84,000 sets of body armor
* 5,700 vehicles
* 54,000 helmets
* 1,700 PKM heavy machine guns
* 20,000 radios
The Department website also contains a long list of "Atrocities Committed by the Insurgency" that should be required reading for every American who believes an independent Iraqi military unsupported in the future by a massive amount of United States military and the blood-sacrifice of American men and women will ever be able to preserve peace and stability in a nation festering with internal conflict and surrounded by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Turkey and Syria.
Soon the Bush Administration will depart from office, leaving in its wake the unholy mess it unleashed when it chose to appropriate Iraq and flex American muscle in the midst of the roiling Middle East. Iraq will then be "somebody else’s problem." George W. Bush can amble off into the Texas sunset confident that he did his best before he had to turn his tin star over to a successor: unimpeachably unrepentant for fooling an America that,"fooled twice," could not muster the national honor to cry, "Shame on you!"
For America, once parent of a "Greatest Generation" who truly knew what "sacrifice" meant on a grand scale, has sired an indolent generation whose dreams dare not be disturbed by uncomfortable thoughts and "reality" nightmares. Those who are about to die for duty-honor-country are barely given a salute beyond ubiquitous magnetic "Support the Troops" banners affixed to vehicles of America’s motorists. That our troops are still not fully-supplied with sufficient armor and other equipment stirs no mass outrage, so why would a memo exposing for once and all the lies of Bush and Blair make a ripple of difference?
As in the classic Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin song from a different wartime era, Iraq is "Long Ago and Far Away." If support for the continuing conflict is tepid, opposition to the conflict seems muted as if this is indeed a nation on Prozac: dissatisfied somnolence. The leading dinosaurs of our national press have also been tranquilized. The morning after Bill Moyers unleashed his trenchant critique of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in St. Louis, neither The New York Times nor the Washington Post reported this most significant event. "Moderation" is preferable to probative reporting. What the citizens don’t know won’t harm the Bush Administration as it cruises on its own free way.
The London Sunday Times memo convincingly demonstrates that the pre-approved decision to invade Iraq was truly based on lies, deception and illusion. The Bush-mandated invasion has led to consequences beyond imagining. Consequences will have consequences, as "blood will have blood." Here is one routine example, sent to me by a veteran of a different "war," whose relative now serves in Iraq because too-few Americans asked questions, demanded answers and said "no" when it would have counted.
"A civilian is re-arranging a load of fruit boxes on his pickup. He is ordered by an American unit commander to get out of the vehicle. The Iraqi does not speak English. He responds with something in Arabic. The unit commander turns away and tells his soldiers ‘shoot him’ . . . and they do."
Sleep well tonight, America. The rest is silence.
DOUG GIEBEL writes from Big Sandy, Montana. He welcomes comment at firstname.lastname@example.org