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Ernest Partridge: "We Got Saddam!" - So What?

"We Got Saddam!" -- So What?

By Ernest Partridge
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers
December 16, 2003

When I first heard of the capture of Saddam Hussein, my immediate reaction was ''Well, that does it. Bush has a lock on the election!''

Then I had second thoughts, as sweet reason took hold of my reflections.

The arrest of Saddam was only a matter of time, and better sooner than later, for we must not lose sight of the incredibly brief American attention span. By next November, this week's sensation will be ancient history. But watch for the capture of Osama bin Laden sometime in October. Now that would be the big enchilada!

As for now, the Bush Administration's record of greed, incompetence and mendacity remains as it was, pre-Saddam snatch. In Iraq, the resistance continues as it will so long as Iraqi citizens perceive (correctly) that the "coalition" troops are invaders and occupiers of their country, for which they are willing to fight and die to get back.

Meanwhile, Osama Bin Laden remains at large, the United States is an international outlaw as it repudiates treaties and violates international statutes, and the Bush Administration is still regarded abroad as arrogant, incompetent and dangerous.

On the home front, the Bushevik excuses for going to war remain as phony as ever -- there are no Iraqi WMDs and there was no Saddam/Osama connection. In addition, the federal deficit and the economic ruin that it portends is unfazed, now and into the indefinite future. All aspects of our domestic life -- the environment, education, the infrastructure, the job market, medical care, retirement accounts, veterans' benefits, research and development in the sciences and technology (the military excluded) -- all these are being starved for funds and investment, all, that is, except the incomes of the wealthiest one-percent.

On the merits, the case against Bush's (not re-)election is overwhelming and conclusive. The unsettled and unsettling question is whether this message will be heard over the cacophony of the mighty GOP/media Wurlitzer.

My first whore-media encounter with the news of Saddam's capture was on CNN, wherein Sen. George Allen (R VA) was in the midst of dumping a steaming wagon-load of BS on the viewers. "Now we will find out who the real terrorists are.... Now he will tell us where he hid all his WMDs ... Now, without their leader, the Iraqi resistance will collapse..." In fear of losing my breakfast, I promptly shut off the tube and booted up the Internet.

Just for the Hell of it, let's sketch out the best Bushista spin on this event. (Warning: not for those with weak stomachs).

Now the mission really is "accomplished!" We did what we set out to do -- we've taken out that awful man, Saddam, and we are now well underway toward bringing democracy to Iraq and to the Middle East. With the head cut off, Iraqi terrorism will wither away and soon we can send many of our troops home. Saddam will tell us where he hid the WMDs and will lead us to the Al Qaeda terrorists. We know he has those weapons and that he was in cahoots with Osama, because our President told us so, and surely he wouldn't lie to us! Oil revenues will pay for the reconstruction of Iraq, and soon the Iraqi people and the people of the world will all come to recognize our noble motives and will appreciate all that we have done for the cause of peace, democracy, and Christianity. (Oops -- strike that last word). At last, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

(Where have we heard that before?)

Now if you believe all that, you likely also believe in the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and Rush Limbaugh. And, like most Americans, you suffer from acute historical amnesia. Otherwise, you might recall that in his UN Security Council speech last February, Colin Powell presented "evidence" that Saddam had huge stockpiles of WMDs at the ready and was working hand in glove with OBL. (Since then, after eight months of intensive searching, not a scrap of supporting evidence has appeared in Iraq). Conspicuously absent from Powell's speech was talk of "bringing democracy" to the Iraq. Now the talk is all about "liberation" with scarcely a peep about finding WMDs and the Al Qaeda connection.

Salesmen call this "bait and switch."

Now let's get real and lay out the actual reasons for "Operation Iraqi Freedom" (gag!). WMDs, Al Qaeda, liberation, democratization, were all excuses for the motives that dared not speak their name: empire, military bases, control of Iraqi oil, profiteering, into which was mixed a bit of personal family feuding.

"Spreading democracy?" Don't be silly! If this were an operative reason for the invasion of Iraq, our troops would now be invading Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Rwanda, Libya, Saudi Arabia, just to name a few of our "friends" in urgent need of "liberation." Come to think of it, if Dubya were all that devoted to democracy, he might do something appropriate about the PATRIOT act, the Guantánamo Gulag, and the Diebold paperless voting machines. After all, "democracy-building" begins at home.

That's the substance of the international and domestic fix that we are in. Public perception (thanks to the aforementioned media Wurlitzer) is something else. The cable news telebimbos are all singing the praise of our "inspired leader." Judy Woodruff, in effect, asks Wesley Clark if there is any point now in his carrying on with his hopeless quest of the White House. Ted Koppel announces to the world that ABC has decided to disqualify three Democratic candidates. And the GOP's favorite Democrat, Joe Lieberman, proclaims that if Howard Dean were President, Saddam would still be in power.

Maybe so, Joe, but 450 dead American GIs would now be alive, as would tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis. In addition, the US Treasury would be $87 billion wealthier, albeit Halliburton and Bechtel would be the poorer for it. Besides, the CIA has proven itself capable of orchestrating relatively bloodless "regime changes" from democracy to dictatorship in Iran (1953) and Chile (1973) (a partial list). Why not put them to work in a reverse operation, bringing "democracy" to Iraq, sans war? Is it just possible that the Bushistas don't really want an authentically democratic Iraq?

Consider the implications:

  • Would a genuinely free and democratic Iraqi government recognize the sale, while under occupation, of its national assets to foreign investors and corporations?

  • Would a genuinely free Iraqi government consent to having Halliburton, Bechtel and the rest in charge of their oil resources?

  • Would a genuinely free Iraqi government turn the task of reconstruction over to American firms -- in effect, cash conduits converting US tax revenues into private American fortunes -- when unemployed Iraqi workers and engineers are available to do the work at a fraction the cost?

  • Would a genuinely free Iraqi government allow the imposition of American military bases on Iraqi soil -- especially when the US presence would make Iraq anathema among their Arabic and Islamic neighbors and brethren?

  • Not bloody likely!
    It is almost certain that an Iraqi government, freely elected (and probably Islamic) would, if it could, order the invaders out post-haste, and then repudiate all laws and economic "agreements" that were forced upon them during occupation.

    Just as we would do -- and did, in 1776.

    If that is to be the consequence of "bringing democracy" to Iraq, do you really believe that the Bushistas will stand for it? If not, how will they prevent it? By installing a puppet government, of course.

    No, "democracy" is the last thing that the Bush Administration wants. What they want is the appearance of democracy -- a living lie, much like the "democracy" they are giving us at home. And as long as they attempt to impose their faux-democracy on the Iraqis, they will be resisted by Iraqi patriots. Viet Nam in the desert.

    There is a way out. Internationalize the transition administration and peace-keeping, and proclaim the reconstruction effort open to competitive bidding. Allow the Iraqis to choose their form of independent national government. Then be prepared to accept the consequences listed above. With such a policy, the United States might recover some of the international prestige that has been lost to Bush's arrogance and bullying since 9/11.

    But if Bush were to do all this, the United States would have to give up the military bases in Iraq, his friends would have to relinquish their investments in and control of Iraqi industry and oil resources.

    Would the Bushistas be willing to do all this? We report, you decide.

    A final word to our progressive compatriots: In terms of substance, Bush's Iraq policy remains as much of a mendacious, fraudulent and incompetent disaster as always. The capture of Saddam doesn't change that fact a bit. But in terms of public perception, let's face it, he's won this round. And he will win a few more before next November 2. But we will win a few as well. Prepare for the long haul, and keep your eyes on the prize. There are many surprises in store for the coming year, and if we are alert and keep our knees loose, we could use them to great advantage.

    I'll say it once again: our cause is hopeless. As hopeless as Gandhi's peaceful resistance to the British Empire. As hopeless as Mandella's struggle against apartheid. As hopeless as Ellsberg's indictment against the Viet Nam War. As hopeless as Martin Luther King's marches against segregation. As hopeless as the protest of Andrei Sakharov and the dissidents against the Soviet Union.
    They didn't despair and give up. Neither should we.

    "An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come." (Victor Hugo)

    Make it so! (Jean Luc Piccard)


    Copyright 2003 by Ernest Partridge

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