In military drill there is something called the preparatory command and the command of execution. These were the two commands, followed in lockstep by the press yesterday:
Prepare to kiss ass.
Or should I say David Petraeus’ ass, followed by a whole raft of retired generals who were immediately featured on the television “news” to re-spin the Petraeus’ spin, where he used the terms “al Qaeda Iraq” and “ethno-sectarian” about 2,000,000 times apiece in the space of a few hours.
Members of Code Pink and Iraq Veterans Against the War, who had infiltrated the hearing room, were serially arrested when they took their turns shouting things like “How long will you listen ot these people?” and “Liar!” from the back of the room. God bless ’em.
The articulate, level-voiced General, though he only went to combat when Bush invaded Iraq, has more fruit salad on his chest than any veteran of three previous wars.
Cheney’s input was in evidence in the psyop, mantra-like repetition of the key phrases as a form of mass mesmeric suggestion… “al Qaeda Iraq” … “ethno-sectarian”… “al Qaeda Iraq” … “ethno-sectarian”… “al Qaeda Iraq” … “ethno-sectarian”… “al Qaeda Iraq” … “ethno-sectarian”…
All designed to instill the same refrain we heard in the runup to the war, Iraq associated with 9-11…oh, that’s tomorrow! Surprise!
…and of course, the war is an affair of those ethno-sectarian primitives (the former guerrillas who were handed Anbar Province have been re-spun into “tribal” leaders and sheiks”). The US occupation force (therein referred to as “coalition forces”) is just there trying to keep them from slaughtering each other, provoked as they have been by who? Oh yeah, “al Qaeda Iraq.”
Rumsfeld’s ghost made its early appearance with the charts and graphs. Metrics, anyone? The Commander-in-Chief, in rallying the most revanchist sectors of his diminishing base, recently invoked Vietnam and the betrayal thesis: that liberal press and those left-wing hippies undermined the war effort, and if we could have killed just a million more Vietnamese, goddamit, we’d have won. With Rumsfeld’s metrics in Petraeus’ mouth yesterday, we have squared the circle with the simultaneous reincarnation of Robert MacNamara and William Westmoreland.
Light at the end of the tunnel, anyone?
No Cheney-Rumsfeldian tableau is complete without its diabolus ex machina — Iran naturally. Petraeus invoked Iran early and often, beginning with the now widely accepted and completely unsupported claim that Iran is supplying weapons to Iraqi “insurgents.” This is one that provoked the arrest of a Code Pinker in the back benches, when she shouted “That’s a lie!”
She was right, of course. This phony claim, originated out of the Public Affairs offices of the Pentagon, has nonetheless become an article of faith with the “journalists” of the American corporate fourth estate.
The most enjoyable and potentially redemptive aspect of the whole dog-and-pony show were the handful of Congress members who — under pressure from war-weary constituents and the polls showing rock-bottom approval ratings for the newly-empowered Democrats — lit into Petraeus with a vigor seldom seen in the hallowed halls of hearingdom.
Congressman Tom Lantos (D – California) assaulted the credibility of the administration with an unusual enthusiasm, with — of course — a ritual denunciation of Iran, and called for immediate withdrawal of US forces. Fellow Californian Loretta Sanchez as much as called Petraeus and his co-conspirator Crocker liars.
Others weighed in, along partisan lines mostly. Nothing shocking there, though my gut tells me that the California Democratic Party — holding within its embrace Barbara Lee, the sole Congressional dissenter against the resolution granting the Bush administration war-making powers — is thinking about its besieged national Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, now facing an electoral challenge from Cindy Sheehan.
Unfortunately, this is the backdrop. The 2008 elections, not the charnel house of American occupation in Iraq.
Behind all the panting about the “heroism” of US troops, and the “sacrifices” of military families who see that dreaded military in the driveway, this is mostly about political ambition and the family feud over which party will run the executive committee for Wall Street and the defense industries.
Not a single member of Congress yesterday cited the most recent extrapolation of Lancet Report showing that around a million Iraqis have been “sacrificed” by the occupation. In a typical US neighborhood with families averaging four, this would be represented by a funeral in every sixth house.
‘Spose I’ve said this before, but the target of our misbehaviors (at least Code Pink and IVAW were on hand to disrupt yesterday) must be the Democratic Party. They can ignore another protest on the National Mall, but they can’t ignore people occupying their local Congressional offices. These occupations to end the occupation need to become ubiquitous.
Last year, I shocked many colleagues by recommending they vote for Democrats across the board in 2006, but folks didn’t read the fine print. We needed to put these people in power to expose them. They were taking cover in the “we’re-just-a-minority” bunker. Now they are in the open, and the institutional rot as well as the class loyalties of the Democratic Party are on vivid display.
What we saw o Monday, aside from the Petraeus-Crocker Show, in the loss of good manners by a few Democrats, was a display of the latent power of a wakeful people. The Code Pinkers and Iraq Veterans Against the War represent a minority in American politics right now, just as anti-slavery advocates once were. But let there be no confusion; this minority — which numbers now in the millions — has the power to put its principles into action in an instrumental way: by threatening the fortunes of one of the ruling class parties in the United States on the issue of a criminal imperial war.
Misbehavior works. Delegitimate. Disobey. Disrupt.
STAN GOFF is the author of “Hideous Dream: A Soldier’s Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti” (Soft Skull Press, 2000), “Full Spectrum Disorder” (Soft Skull Press, 2003) and “Sex & War” which will be released approximately December, 2005. He is retired from the United States Army. His blog is at www.stangoff.com.
Goff can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org