FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush, Ba’ath and Beyond

In Karl Rove’s ideal world, Iraq today would be a model country, a nation at peace, with scenes of happy children boarding schoolbuses, women working in computer facilities, families enjoying themselves in fairgrounds, and a smooth-running administration manned by smooth-talking Iraqis.

And his candidate would be unbeatable.

Timing was everything to this scenario. Enough time before November 2004 to settle any lingering problems after the conquest: hence the need to short-circuit diplomacy, dump the allies, bypass the Arabs and jettison weapons inspections, and rush to war.

The White House makes up its own reality, as Ron Susskind learned in his interviews there [1]. More, it does so with cold deliberation. So they made up this fictional reality of an impending threat, using trigger words like ‘mushroom cloud’, ‘American cities’, ‘gassing his own people’, etc. They succeeded in roping Congress into the act, using the 2002 elections as a bogeyman, giving the illegal war an aura of legitimacy. They had already browbeaten a corporate press which really gave no cause to browbeat, more’s the pity, for its corporate masters were happy to be on the winning side. Recall how enthusiastically the Washington Post supported the war, and how well Bob Woodward served the president afterwards.

But as in real fiction, fictional reality soon ran into real reality, as it must. The strategy demanded some extraordinary sleight of hand to cover up this crossing. All magicians use misdirection — the art of making you look at one place while the mischief is happening at another. And so did Rove’s crew, for a long while. But all magicians have one trait in common. They cannot be clumsy – competence is everything in magic. And the prime hallmark of this administration, combined with an innate mendacity and a natural chicanery, is a pristine incompetence. Rove is a master strategist, his success all the more creditable given the material he has to work with. Long ago, after Clinton’s victory in 1992, James Carville and Paul Begala wrote a piece saying that it was the prime actor, not they, who was responsible for the win. I don’t recall the exact words, but it went like this, “He’ll take his side and beat you, and he’ll take your side and beat you too!”

So spare a thought for poor Karl. Capping a year’s worth of bad news from Falluja and Najaf, and daily red alerts in the Green Zone, this week brings news from Baghdad of a huge explosives cache left unguarded and allowed to be looted following the Iraq invasion. No one knows where the explosives have gone, and the IAEA, which had been monitoring the cache prior to the war, said it had warned the US about it. To put the loss in perspective, one paper noted the Lockerbie bombing used about a pound of the same kind of explosive. Gone missing from Al Quaqa are 380 tons of explosive.

If it’s been a while since you left school, 1 ton = 2000 pounds.

OK, so we didn’t guard the Baghdad Museum and watched some of mankind’s greatest wealth destroyed. But what about nuclear and biological sites? Peter Galbraith, a diplomat who was in Iraq at the time of the invasion, has written a chastening piece in the Boston Globe [2] giving instances of such facilities being left unguarded.

Last time, as Al Gore wrote in the New York Times, Bush did not have a record. Not any more. The bankruptcy of ideas and failure of execution are there for all who would open their eyes. No one seriously believes that Bush knows the first thing about economics. No one thinks he is an education president. One would not even call his instincts Christian in any genuine sense, for it is impossible to reconcile his calls to revenge with the words of the Sermon on the Mount. And Bush proved in the debates that he could not even talk cogently for two minutes without a teleprompter, regardless of subject. It has been an administration bereft of achievement, cunning in all its doings, enveloped in secrecy and terrified of admitting either frailty or fallibility.

So what’s left? The final fiction of Bush being the only man who can stand between middle-eastern terror and Fortress America. We are fighting in Iraq because otherwise we would be dying in our cities, is the theme of the Bush-Cheney camp. Well, people are seeing that Americans are dying, 1100 of them so far, in Iraq too.

Kerry does not ask why this administration failed us on 9-11 — perhaps thinking it bad form. It is a hugely relevant question, however, for its incompetence was revealed early by that disaster. But despite Kerry’s plodding, the facts are out stumping for themselves. Bush’s final argument fell this week. Among the missing items at Al Quaqa is the last pillar of Bush’s case for reelection.

As this election approaches I am reminded of a joke I heard long ago: A man enters the doctor’s office with the left ear and a wide patch of his left cheek burned. The doctor was aghast. “How did that happen?”, he asks. The man answers slowly, “Well, I was ironing some clothes when the phone rang. I absentmindedly answered by picking up the iron and putting it to my ear….Ouch!”. The doctor suppresses a smile and prepares to take out some ointments and bandages. Then he suddenly notices that there is an identical bruise on the right side of the man’s face. “What happened on the other side?”, he asks. The man says sheepishly, “Well, the guy called again…”

Four years later, Bush is calling again. Will America, with all of Rove’s evangelical base, burn the other cheek?

NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN is a writer living on the West Coast. His writings can be found on http://www.indogram.com/gramsabha/articles. His blog is at http://njn-blogogram.blogspot.com. He can be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.

References:

[1] Without a Doubt by Ron Susskind, New York Times Magazine, Oct 17, 2004

[2] Eyewitness to a failure in Iraq by Peter K. Galbraith, Boston Globe, October 27, 2004

 

More articles by:

/>Niranjan Ramakrishnan is a writer living on the West Coast.  His book, “Reading Gandhi In the Twenty-First Century” was published last year by Palgrave.  He may be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Wim Laven
The Annual Whitewashing of Martin Luther King Jr.
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail