This is so much fun! Watching those harebrained idiots try to figure out what to do with me makes me smile. They couldn’t get me under the last Bush who tried, and it’s not going to be any easier this time.
Is it because I’m beloved by my people, who loyally will resist the American invaders and their British and “Iraqi Opposition” lackeys? Of course not. I’m no fool. I rule by power and threat and torture and murder. But I’m still here.
So what if I have to rub out some Kurds or an entire layer of lieutenants or colonels when I suspect an assassination plot? The troops and populace receive the lesson and I still have my head.
Yes, of course, I’m doing all this out of love for #1. But I’m also quite conscious that I have been, and remain, a gigantic symbol in so many ways.
For the nation of Islam, and especially for its beleagured Arabs, I’m a hero, because I am a constant irritant to the West, and especially to America, and none of them knows how to scratch me away into oblivion. I stand up to them when nobody else does, and, even though most of my fellow Muslims hate my guts and are scared that I’ll maybe attack them or otherwise bring ruin to the region — especially when my nuclear arsenal is completed — they admire my courage and patience in the face of so much overwhelming power. My audacity and tenacity — catchy, yes?
For the Americans, I am a symbol of “evil” who must be eliminated because: 1) They foolishly ended their last war against me and went home without finishing the job. (Yes, I realize they rationalized their decision by “keeping him in power as a counterweight to the fanatical mullahs in Iran.”); 2) They think I’m developing “weapons of mass destruction” and might use them against Israel, neighboring oil-countries, or even pass them on to terrorists to attack the U.S. directly. I’m not that dumb; I know what they’d do to me — a nuclear missile right into my deepest bunker — but they can’t be sure they know what I’d do, and I like it that way.
Probably the cleverest thing I did during the last U.S. invasion was to set the oilfields ablaze. They weren’t expecting that one. Now they don’t know for sure what I’m capable of doing; I might just be loony enough to unleash biological and chemical weapons on the advancing U.S. troops, or fire off a few missiles full of the stuff into Tel Aviv. (Actually, I’m less worried about the Americans — they’re just confused — than I am about the Israelis. They took out my fledgling nuclear program once before, and this time they’ll simply level everything they think is weapons-related. And it’ll all be over in a day-and-a-half.)
The father Bush was an old-time warrior, and a former CIA hand as well. I could figure out how he’d move. This younger one, though, is something of a crazy cowboy, and he’s already demonstrated that he’s capable of anything. Yes, of course, he’s a doltish puppet, but the folks around him use him well, and his ignorance and threatening bluster — and his Texas fascination with violence — actually serve their cause well.
Speaking of violence, damn that bin Laden guy! Even though I don’t believe any of that religious crap, I was setting myself up as the savior-to-be of the Muslim/Arab world — and had resurrected my weapons and research programs after I got the U.N. inspectors to leave — and then he had to come along and engage the adoration of the Islam street by striking the American beast in his own lair. And then Arafat, that corrupt poseur, to counter bin Laden decided he’d have to ratchet up the rhetoric and violence against mad-dog Sharon’s Israel — leaving me out here, hemmed in and handicapped by my situation, twiddling my thumbs. At the most, I was #3 in the hero sweepstakes in the Middle East. Qadaffi, poor soul, retired.)
Thankfully, George W. Bush has made my stock shoot up once again, by labeling me one of the dread “axis of evil,” whatever that means, and promising to come and get me. I’m a contender again, and I don’t have to show you no stinkin’ anything.
Besides, you wouldn’t find anything. Sure, I’ve got my biological, chemical and nuclear programs and missiles, but they’re scattered and hidden underground so skillfully — I didn’t waste these years since the U.N. left! — that nobody will ever find them, not even if I have to permit the inspectors back in. They found a lot in those early days, but after awhile, those dolts were so easy to fool. And we made their job such a hassle — simply by endlessly delaying their work, and standing up to them and at times threatening them — that they took flight.
That’s the secret of my success — infinite patience — along with determination, nastiness, and never, never giving in totally to the West. Eventually, they get tired of dealing with a hard-headed dictator and back away, or compromise. Their leaders come and go. The embargo has more holes than a collander. And I’m still here.
True, I don’t like moving around from palace to palace every night or two, but the dance is still fun. Especially when I read about how divided the Bush Administration is about what to do with me. Their military, and the British military too, are opposed to a Western attack on Iraq, as well they might be — we’d tie them up here for years, and send a lot of their young men home in garbage bags — but the civilian “hawks” in the White House and Pentagon (who have never fought in a war, of course) are raring to take me out.
They want me out of the picture, but not just because I thumbed my nose at Daddy Bush and got away with it. What they really want is control of the oil. Not just Iraq’s but the whole thing: the Middle East, Caspian reserves in the ‘stans (the Afghan pipeline slots in here), Venezuela, everywhere.
Of course, I have similar ambitions, at least for this region — I almost got Kuwait and I think maybe I could have taken Saudia Arabia too — and for what I can do politically with the power of that oil-tap. I could create economic chaos and depression in the West, get them to lean on Israel, guarantee a Palestinian state’s viability, become even more of a hero amongst the Muslim masses. I wouldn’t even need “weapons of mass destruction” against the West.
In short, I’m in the way of their master plan. If they can kill me, they’ll install some equally brutal military leader, but he’ll be beholden to the West, and the Middle East/Gulf once again will be totally under the thumb of outsiders. I’ll do anything to keep that from happening, maybe even taking them down with me if they force the fight. The worst thing that can happen is that I’ll be seen as a martyr for the cause.
But I don’t think it’ll have to come to that. I’ll diddle with the U.N. for awhile (maybe agree to a quick, one-month look-see), try to make sure that no Arab states offer staging bases to the Western attackers, rattle my own sabers, and probably the U.S. will “postpone” its attack.
Sure, Bush will look weak, but he’ll spin it and come at me from another direction, another time. And guess what? I’ll still be here.
Bernard Weiner, playwright and poet, was the San Francisco Chronicle’s theater critic; a Ph.D. in government & international relations, he has taught at various universities, and been published in The Nation, Village Voice, The Progressive and CounterPunch.