FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

On Digging a Hole and Crawling In It

American troops found a guy who looked a lot like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn hiding in a spider hole in Iraq.

The word “grotesque” means “out of a cave.”

“Good riddance,” said an oddly prescient G. W. Bush, employing the same phrase millions will no doubt utter the day he leaves office. If he returns to his ranch in Texas sooner rather than later, voters all over the country will run through the streets wearing T-shirts emblazoned with G.W.’s likeness over the words “We got him!”

Saddam may have looked like a displaced Russian novelist on Thorazine, and why not? We are told he spent his last days in power putting the finishing touches on a new novel about himself leading an underground resistance movement to victory against an occupying force.

Forget Solzhenitsyn, Saddam is straight out of Nabokov, who knew more about the psychology of the self-deluding fool than anyone (with the possible exception of Henry James). Go and rent Fassbinder’s 1979 film of Nabokov’s “Despair” and let Dirk Bogarde explain the likes of Saddam to you without of course ever mentioning him.

No one will ever mistake G. W. for a novelist, nor is he much of an actor. Indeed, no president has had less to say and more trouble saying it. He has dared come forth from his own hiding place to confront the press only four times this year. Bush, who overwhelmed a crumbling, virtually defenseless opponent only to begin behaving as though he had just won the War of the Worlds, was wearing no disguise when last seen, not even a borrowed flight suit. He looked exactly like himself as he smirked his way through a press conference and a victory lap with Diane Sawyer.

While G. W. witlessly gloated (“when the heat got on, you dug yourself a hole, and you crawled in it”), others were scowling on his behalf. William Bennett, the chain-smoking former drug czar and easily the most dishonest-looking man in America, turned up on cable calling outright for Bush to torture Saddam, put sharp sticks under his fingernails, and so forth, until he comes up with weapons of mass destruction. (If they really wanted to torture Saddam they would force him to read The Book of Virtues.)

So what if Saddam is getting no better than what he had coming to him. I’m more worried about what we’ll all get, down the road, as a result of the administration’s actions.

Whether or not he is a prisoner of war, Saddam is, or was, after all, a Head of State.

Is it inappropriate to ask how we would want an American president to be treated if he or she were ever to fall into enemy hands and be accused of crimes against humanity?

(I agree, it is unthinkable. Still, let us think it.)

Would not Americans demand that even the worst commander-in-chief be treated with respect, and not a hair on that old gray head harmed?

Would we not also feel that however they were treating our president, they were treating our country?

Twenty years ago Donald Rumsfeld was photographed grinning and hugging his friend Saddam Hussein. Now Rumsfeld’s army is holding our former employee incommunicado at an undisclosed location, interrogating him without witnesses. Assuming that the arrangement is not, contrary to appearances, designed more to keep him from telling what he knows than to encourage him to unload, can information produced under those circumstances have a shred of credibility?

One imagines Saddam sitting there, even now, dreaming of Mars bars and salami and outlining his next ghastly novel in his head, no longer able to distinguish his life from his dissociated legend.

Meanwhile people with close ties to the administration go on television and call for the prisoner to be tortured. No one in authority is telling these people to shut up. Why should they? Their leader has already expressed his preference for the “ultimate” punishment.

It’s pretty hard to get worked up about humane treatment for Saddam Hussein. I’m not too worried about it myself. Frankly, I don’t care what happens to him.

However, here’s the thing. If the worst have no rights, neither do the best.

By his own testimony, G. W. Bush’s favorite philosopher is Jesus, who said “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Buddha said that, too. So did Dr. John the Night Tripper (“what goes around comes around”).

“You dug yourself a hole, and you crawled in it.” Words that Bush used to describe Saddam’s attempt to hide from capture. Words that sadly may also be used one day to describe Bush’s adventure in Iraq.

* * *

(Apologies to William Faulkner, who said of Dreiser, “No writer ever had more to say, and more trouble saying it.” And thanks to “outfidel,” who first suggested Saddam’s resemblance to Solzhenitsyn in a newsgroup posting.)

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, just released a scorching new CD, Way Down Here.

He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com

Visit his website at http://www.rebelangel.com

 

More articles by:

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omaorosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
Dean Baker
Fact-Checking the Fact-Checker on Medicare-for-All
Weekend Edition
August 10, 2018
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Militarizing Space: Starship Troopers, Same As It Ever Was
Andrew Levine
No Attack on Iran, Yet
Melvin Goodman
The CIA’s Double Standard Revisited
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Grifter’s Lament
Aidan O'Brien
In Italy, There are 12,000 American Soldiers and 500,000 African Refugees: Connect the Dots 
Robert Fantina
Pity the Democrats and Republicans
Ishmael Reed
Am I More Nordic Than Members of the Alt Right?
Kristine Mattis
Dying of Consumption While Guzzling Snake Oil: a Realist’s Perspective on the Environmental Crisis
James Munson
The Upside of Defeat
Brian Cloughley
Pentagon Spending Funds the Politicians
Pavel Kozhevnikov
Cold War in the Sauna: Notes From a Russian American
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail