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Saturday, November 04, 2006


Iraq in the news

Four stories in the paper today, each in its own way with some strange aspect.

The biggest one is the Richard Perle story - "the intellectual godfather of the Iraq war...now believes he should not have backed the U.S.-led invasion, and...holds President Bush responsible for failing to make timely decisions to stem the rising violence." Well, his deathbed (that's not his deathbed, you understand, just the deathbed of hundreds of thousands of Iraqs and several thousand Americans and others) confession doesn't hold much water with me, and one reason to doubt its sincerity (as well as the worth of the American media) is this sentence, printed without challenge:

Perle ...is quoted in January's Vanity Fair as saying the U.S. might have been able to strip Saddam Hussein of his ability to build unconventional weapons "by means other than a direct military intervention."
The fact that Iraq had had neither "unconventional weapons" nor even unconventional weapons "programs" since the early 90's? Apparently that has escaped the attention of both Perle and the writer of this article.

Story #2 is another widely publicized one - the fact that the MIlitary Times newspapers are calling on Monday for the firing of Secretary of War Defense Donald Rumsfeld. As an aside, I note that this highlights one of the reasons I don't approve of "reason-less" absentee voting - more than 40% of the people voting in Tuesday's elections have already voted, and are thus unable to change their vote based on such late developments (not that it matters much in this case). Anyway, the strange sentence in this article is this one:

"Although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.''
Whatever happened to the idea of the "Commander-in-Chief"? It's certainly language we've heard from George Bush himself many times, not to mention the media. Isn't the "Commander-in-Chief" (a.k.a. "the decider") the one who is responsible for what happens on his watch? I know that many people, including me, think that Bush is no brainwave and is ultimately just giving the orders for decisions made by such people as Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. But Bush is the President, and ultimately it is he that gives the orders (with the exception of the events of 9/11). However much various people influence him, it is ultimately he who says "yea" or "nay" and sets events in motion. Nothing Donald Rumsfeld has done has been without George Bush's agreement, tacit or expressed. Yet the entire American ruling class treats the idea of calling for George Bush's resignation as somehow unmentionable. Others (see the upper right of this page and it's call for "Resign Now!") feel differently. Unfortunately not enough of us.

The other two stories are similar. In one, we learn that "Iraq’s Defense Ministry [is] bracing for possible violence" when the verdict in the Saddam Hussein trial is announced. Yes, because things have been nothing but peace and tranquility until now. And in the other, we are told that "The spate of killings in the capital [56 bodies found] appeared to mark a return of the sectarian violence that American officials said had ebbed last week." I think they left out "for an hour or two." Did anybody notice an "ebbing of violence" last week? Anybody? Without going back and checking, I'm pretty sure there hasn't been a single day when the number of dead bodies turning up in Baghdad hasn't been in the double-digits, with most days in the 40-50 range. "Ebbing of violence" my eye. As I did the other day with Major Caldwell and his "great work of art" comment, I dare the "American officials" who claim violence was "ebbing" (or the newspaper reporters and editors who print this nonsense) to go door-to-door in Baghdad, visit the families of the people who died just yesterday, and repeat that absurd claim. As with Major Caldwell, chances are they'll be dead before they reach door number two.

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