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Bill Grigsby: Iraq As Prop In ‘Plan For Victory’

Iraq As Prop In ‘Plan For Victory’


By Bill Grigsby

The White House is focused on victory. But not in Iraq—that’s been outsourced to the in-house PR professionals, who recently produced a glossy, 35-page, ‘Plan for Victory’ brochure. The naïve observer could be forgiven for thinking this was actually a ‘Plan for Victory’ in Iraq. Keep in mind, though, this is from the people who brought you torture, extraordinary rendition, the Mission Accomplished Video, Fallen Heroes Theatre, attacks on Al Jazeera’s offices, journalists on the public payroll, a private army of well-paid mercenaries, rigged elections (at least stateside …), deficit and debt packaged in unfunded mandates, depleted uranium, white phosphorus, widespread domestic spying, an accounting system that would do Dennis Kozlowski proud, amber alerts, and . . . no WMDs.

The brochure reads more like a hastily concocted media guide for the journalistically impaired. Or compromised. But we’re to believe it’s the product of careful planning over the last few years. Who in 2003—or now for that matter— was calling the insurgents ‘rejectionists’ or ‘Saddamists,’ inspired by al-Qaida (much like the movie ‘Gone with the Wind’ inspired commemorative plaque artists)? This sounds like an ad for the Franklin Mint. What next? Nuclear bunker busters inspired by Bill Murray’s character in Caddyshack? The ‘Plan for Victory’ Brochure (PVB) includes the word ‘victory’ roughly 36 times, just in case you missed the Victory Plan photo-op backdrop and weren’t clear that victory is, well, victorious. Other words, focus group-crafted for quick, uncritical media consumption and repeated often, include:

Security: 107
Terror/ists: 102
Strategy/strategic: 81
Enemy/ies: 66
Democracy/democratic: 48
Victory: 36
Insurgents: 14
Rejectionists: 13
War on terror: 9
Saddamists: 8
Freedom: 8
Tyranny: 7

There were also in the PVB some notable omissions and slights:

Oil: 5
Al Qaida: 5
Bin Laden: 4
Weapons of mass destruction: 2
Smoking gun: 0
Mushroom cloud: 0
Soft bigotry of low expectations: 0
Privatization: 0
Permanent U.S. military bases: 0
Depleted uranium: 0
Stop-loss orders: 0
Draft: 0
Waterboarding: 0
Civilian casualties: 0
White phosphorus: 0
Yellow cake uranium: 0
mercenaries: 0
Halliburton: 0
Financial audit: 0

Act now and receive an additional ‘eight strategic pillars’ (inspired by the five pillars of the Muslim faith!) at no extra cost. Yes, that’s right—all for the low low price of $1 to $2 trillion, according to conspiracy kook and Nobel Laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz.

This PVB is shorter than an NFL team media guide. But it allows President Bush to look those hard-hitting journalists in the eye and say “I got my assignment turned in! Whoah! Was that Nadlee Holloway?”

And watch the room clear. Yet holding the White House accountable to even this pitiful brochure would be like trying to count flies on a roadside carcass. BushCo seems to have put more thought into the brochure’s font styles and sizes than it has in the bombings, general chaos, civilian casualties, power blackouts, detainee torture, and private profiteering that constitute the daily realities on the ground in Iraq for soldiers and civilians.

Then again, maybe Iraq isn’t the most important war on BushCo’s to do list. The White House seems to be gearing up for another war—the midterm election campaign, and the haunting specter of impeachment or slow death by investigation if the GOP doesn’t hold on to the House and Senate. When it comes to elections, we already know the GOP is willing to cheat, smear, disenfranchise, and appeal to the basest human instincts to incite fear and bigotry. And from a practical standpoint, it just so happens that campaigning is one of two areas where President Bush has exhibited flashes of competence (the other being brushclearing photo-opps). And shouldn’t we, as Americans, be able to say on occasion, without choking, ‘heckuva job, Dubya?’

It’s the little things that tip their hand, like the recess appointment of Hans von Spakovsky—no stranger to election controversies—to the Federal Elections Commission through 2006, which is sort of like having Donald Rumsfeld as keynote speaker at a conscientious objector convention.

If BushCo is indeed mobilizing for the campaign, what sorts of campaign strategies can we expect? Look for discretionary funds to target competitive House districts and Senate states. Karl Rove’s Smear Strike Forces will start swift-boating democratic candidates and White House critics. The first assault has already been launched by hatchet journalist L. Brent Bozell III against Rep. John Murtha. Bozell should know—he came within an eyelash of receiving a purple heart himself when he received a paper cut folding his own personal air fleet of ‘Shock and Awe’ fighters.

More things to look for include tight audience control at “public” (i.e., televised) events. Hot-button state referenda to drive the homosexual and flag-burning posses out on election day. Increased levels of secrecy, er, ‘executive privilege.’ More efforts at the state level to disenfranchise marginalized groups. A moratorium on e-voting reform in at-risk states, or any election reform for that matter (say, has Kenny Boy Blackwell made good on his promise to clean up Ohio’s elections yet?). Tighter circling of the wagons, to out the disloyal shills and enforce ‘message discipline.’ This would include stepped-up intimidation of potential whistleblowers—at least while the White House quietly turns the federal personnel system inside out with ‘performance-based’ criteria. Which may require some category even beyond Rangers and Pioneers.

Eagerly await more TV News Wallpaper with subtle messages for TV news consumers. You should assume that mean-spirited democrats and Hollywood’s liberal elites will continue their relentless persecution of sacred and politically charged symbols like Christmas, Easter, the ten commandments, school prayer, capitalism, Elvis, heterosexual couples, white males, hard-working CEOs, our men and women in uniform, democracy, freedom, decency, the flag, baseball, motherhood, Dale Earnhardt, etc.

And if those don’t work, if approval ratings really go south, there’s always Iran. And just in case this isn’t enough to slap together a midterm elections brochure (MEB), read GOP propagandist Frank Luntz’s spin lexicon for 2006. One thing is pretty clear—this will all take place in lieu of actual governance, which is being outsourced to the private sector and paid for with trade deficits, oil and gas leases, tax cuts, declining wages, and IRS audits zeroing in on the lucrative $13,000 and under income market. Just call it part of a neocon.

The BushCo political machine has already displayed a willingness, even zeal, to break laws and destroy reputations that threaten ‘victory.’ The stakes are much too high to leave this to the whim of the American electorate. One can only hope that a few enterprising, unattached, currently-not-dating journalists with little or no regard for their safety and lots of backup copies are investigating connections between domestic spying and election rigging.

And that all people who care about democracy can be bothered to pay attention this time around. Because the campaign season has brought to the fore Iraq Noble Cause no. 24: avoiding impeachment.

*************

Bill Grigsby

Bill Grigsby is Assistant Professor of Sociology, Eastern Oregon University

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