“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Monday, October 18, 2004


Our motto in Iraq

Finally, the U.S. has come up for a motto for its splendid little bloodletting in Iraq. In a story about the after-effects of trying to dislodge a murderous thug in Najaf, on the behest of a murderous thug in Baghdad, we came across the verbal stylings of one Carrie Batson:

“Capt. Carrie Batson, a spokeswoman for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said that the pace of payments for injuries, death and damage had picked up and that more than $1 million had been given out. "We will pay for damage, death, injury caused by us," she said.”

There it is: We will pay for damage, death, injury caused by us. Incisive, isn’t it, with just that hint of being against frivolous lawsuits which we know is the hallmark of the Bush interregnum.

Meanwhile, history is moving with lightning speed in the frivolous war. We no longer read headlines about Chalabi, our former man in Iraq, who has been making advances to Moktada al-Sadr. Oddly enough, Chalabi is now trying to find a place as a representative of the overwhelming anti-American feeling in Iraq. Trust a con man to change with the wind.

Juan Cole
recently had an interesting account of the current state of play in Iraq. It is the default in the Ameerican press that the U.S. represents the spread of freedom and dignity in Iraq -- a default that has so far resisted reality. Item: Freedom and dignity currently appear to be best served by reviving – Saddam’s secret police. There is no low point for the Bush regime – there is always a lower coming up ahead. Cole’s post begins with a report about who is arresting whom in Baghdad, taken from Middle East Online:

“Brig. Gen. Muhammad Abdullah Shahwani, the head of the Iraqi secret police, has charged 27 employees in the Iranian embassy in Baghdad with espionage and sabotage. He blames them for the assassination of over a dozen members of the Iraqi secret police in the past month. He claims to have seized from "safehouses" Persian documents that show that the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and its militia, the Badr Corps, served as Iranian agents in helping with the assassinations.”

That the U.S. is stirring up the old Baathist anti-Iranian faction might be the most criminal thing done by the freedom loving occupiers yet. Especially as the last time Iran and Iraq fought, the casualty rate went to a half a million. Of course, not being American lives, they don’t really count, except on certain photo op occasions. So it is that the Americans will dig up a mass grave and show proper shock that this is how Saddam did things, and then quietly re-animate Saddam’s secret police, a move entirely consistent with the past bios of the Pentagon pumphouse gang. Meanwhile, these things go on beneath a vow of silence on the part of the major media, which spends its time publishing pieces by reporters lamenting that they can't get out in the country anymore, due to the risk of being scooped up and beheaded, or blown up, or simply shot. None of these pieces, of course, draw the obvious conclusion that maybe, if you accept being embedded with the forces of an invading army at the beginning of a war, you will be seen as synechdotes of that army as the war proceeds. However, it is funny that the press corps can't bestir itself to inquire about Shabwani – especially if, as Cole contends, he’s being groomed as second puppet in command, in case Allawi succumbs to the mortar laced atmosphere of freedom and security that currently swathes Baghdad.

“Shahwani is an old-time Baath officer. In 1990 he broke with Saddam, who is said to have killed three of Shahwani's children in revenge. Shahwani came out of Iraq and to join US efforts to overthrow the dictator. This summer, he was appointed head of the Mukhabarat or Iraqi secret police, which the US Central Intelligence Agency is rebuilding with $3 billion. Shahwani is alleged to be a long-time CIA asset who is being groomed as a replacement for caretaker Prime Minister Iyad Allawi should the latter be assassinated.”

LI used to comment extensively on Chalabi’s friend, Christopher Hitchens (who has fallen strangely silent about the man he called brother in his last book), but it is rather like shooting fish in a barrel anymore. It is one thing to adopt the politics of Robert Novak, and quite another thing to start writing like him. Unfortunately, Hitchens not only changed his philosophy, but exchanged the texture of his prose for a lifetime supply of old ham. Usually, the style is the true politics, the Ariadne’s thread that leads one through the maze. Hitchens snipped his thread – more’s the pity. However, we did read with interest the recent “debate’ between Hitchens and Tariq Ali on Democracy Now, partly because we just finished, with maximum dissatisfaction, Ali’s screed, Bush in Babylon. We will talk more about that debate in another post.


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