Another week begins with a series of attacks. A U.S. soldier dies, a handful are wounded, and the headlines fill with the report that the Supreme Council, a group fo Iraqis, mostly exiles, picked by Bremer, has convened and decreed a holiday.
However, even though we view the Supreme Council as more of a tool of the occupiers than a legitimate government, we think that the UN representative in Iraq is right. He supposedly urged the people on the council to accept their appointments by saying that power will inevitably be accrued by the thing. The tools will take over from the toolmaker. We think that is, in essence, true. And we think that Bremer, who seems to view Iraq as his opportunity to employ the economic shock tactics so manfully and disastrously employed by the Harvard boys in Yeltsin's Russia, is going to face resistance if he keeps going down that course. The question will then be: will Americans back down, or will they simply replace and gerrymander the Council?
The Financial Times reports that there are sincere and deep differences between Council members on the status of the occupation. This is healthy.
"The body's first decision on Sunday was to ban all holidays associated with Saddam Hussein's regime. The council also declared April 9, the day Baghdad was captured by US forces, as a national holiday.
But at a rowdy press conference led by Mohammed Bahr al-Ulloum, the council's representative, council members, while united in hatred of Mr Hussein, appeared divided on the subject of the coalition presence in Iraq.Disagreement on this fundamental issue raged between Abdel Aziz al Hakim, representing the Iran-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and Ahmed Chalabi (pictured), head of the Pentagon-backed Iraqi National Congress. Mr al Hakim referred to the coalition as occupiers while Mr Chalabi insisted they were liberators."
This is only one of several developments showing that a creeping rationality among the Bush people, who generally inculcate other forms of creepiness. Probably the lie about Niger uranium is a lesser story, in the long run, than the less publicized story of the cost of Donald Rumsfeld's excellent Iraq adventure: about 4 billion per month. The thing is, that cost is going to rise. Twice what the Pentagon originally estimated -- see LI's earlier posts for harping on this issue, pre the invasion -- it will have to rise if Iraq is not to sink. As a consequence of alienating the richer allies, Americans are not getting floated on this invasion. As ill feeling mounts towards the Americans, the wisest course would be to mix the occupying force and find international funds for Iraq, but that course requires giving up the dream of sole American hegemony. So far, the Bush-ites do not want to go there. A NYT article detailing our shadowy reach out efforts towards Old Europe, quotes some Pentagon muckety muck - Feith? Wolfowitz? - as saying that the international community needs to accept that the Coalition Provisional Authoritiy is the Government of Iraq. Period. Bush's people have been politically ept during the last year - although they have faced the soggiest of oppositions. We'll see if they are ept enough to redo their plan of making Iraq into Chili. Othewise, that plan is going to blow up in their face.
Autobiography of a Super-Tramp
Lately,due to our financial circumstances, we've been thinking of hitting the road with our labtop and a change of clothes in a backpack. For pointers on the life of a tramp, we've been dipping into W.H. Davies classic Autobiography of a Super-Tramp. The book is almost completely transcribed on-line. Here's a quote from it:
A TRAMP'S SUMMER VACATION
WE were determined to be in the fashion, and to visit the various delightful watering places on Long Island Sound. Of course it would be necessary to combine business with pleasure, and pursue our calling as beggars. With the exception of begging our food, which would not be difficult, seeing that the boarding houses were full, and that large quantities of good stuff were being made, there was no reason why we should not get as much enjoyment out of life as the summer visitors. We would share with them the same sun and breeze; we could dip in the surf at our own pleasure, and during the heat of the day we could stretch our limbs in the green shade, or in the shadow of some large rock that overlooked the Sound. However, we could no longer stand the sultry heat of New York, where we had been for several days, during which time we had been groaning and gasping for air. So I and Brum started out of the City, on the way towards Hartford, Connecticut, with the intention of walking no more than six miles a day along the seacoast. What a glorious time we had; the people catered for us as though we were the only tramps in the whole world, and as if they considered it providential that we should call at their houses for assistance. The usual order of things changed considerably. Cake-which we had hitherto considered as a luxury-became at this time our common food, and we were at last compelled to install plain bread and butter as the luxury, preferring it before the finest sponge cake flavoured with spices and eggs. Fresh water springs were numerous, gushing joyously out of the rocks, or lying quiet in shady nooks; and there was many a tramp's camp, with tin cans ready to hand, where we could make our coffee and consume the contents of paper bags. This part of the country was also exceptionally good for clothes. Summer boarders often left clothes behind, and of what use were they to the landladies, for no rag-and-bone man ever called at their houses. The truth of the matter was that in less than a week I was well dressed from head to foot, all of these things being voluntary offerings, when in quest of eatables. Brum, of course, had fared likewise, but still retained the same pair of dungarees, which he swore he would not discard except at the instance of a brand new pair of tweeds. It was this pair of working man's trousers which had caused a most regrettable mistake. We had just finished begging at one of these small watering-places and, loaded with booty, were on our way in the direction of the camp which, Brum informed me, was half a mile north of the town. When we reached this camp we found it occupied by one man, who had just then made his coffee and was about to eat. On which Brum asked this man's permission to use his fire, which would save us the trouble of making one of our own. The stranger gave a reluctant consent, and at the same time moved some distance away, as though he did not wish further intimacy. While we were gathering wood and filling our cans at the spring, I could not help but see this stranger glaring hatefully at my companion's trousers, and expected every moment to hear some insulting remark. At last we were ready and Brum proceeded to unload himself. He had eight or nine parcels of food distributed about his clothes, but in such a way that no one could be the wiser. It was then that I noted a change come over the stranger's face, who seeing the parcels, seemed to be smitten with remorse. In another moment he was on his feet and coming towards us, said impulsively-'Excuse me, boys, for not giving you a more hearty welcome, but really'- glancing again at my companion's trousers-'I thought you were working men, but I now see that you are true beggars.' Brum laughed at this, and mentioned that others had also been deceived. He explained that the said trousers had been given him against his wish, but on seeing that they were good, and were likely to outlast several pairs of cloth, he had resolved to stick to them for another month or two. 'I regret having had such an opinion of you,' said the stranger, in a choking voice, 'and trust, boys, that you will forgive me.' Thus ended in a friendly spirit what promised at first to become very unpleasant.