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William Rivers Pitt: A Turning Point

A Turning Point

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 02 May 2006

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.
-- John Kenneth Galbraith

George W. Bush marked the three-year anniversary of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq by declaring that a "turning point" has been reached in that shattered nation. His crotch-bulging strut across the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, some 1,097 days ago, was intended to show America and the world that victory had been achieved. On May 1st, 2006, the best he could do was promise that victory might possibly come at some indeterminate point in the future.

This is, by the best estimates, the four hundred and twelfth "turning point" that has been reached in Iraq since the disastrous invasion was undertaken. One could argue that, in fact, this "turning point" is for real; after all, Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld managed to go to Iraq and return without getting blown sideways out of a Humvee or without having their airplane shot down over Baghdad. That has to count for something.

A look at a few of the headlines from the day after Bush's declaration of a "turning point" show us all how close complete and total victory is. On May 2nd, it was reported that two civilians were kidnapped in Buhriz. Three Iraqi soldiers were wounded by a roadside bomb in Dora. Hundreds of other Iraqi soldiers flipped out and tore off their uniforms when informed that they would not be deployed to their home regions. Fifteen bodies, bound and blindfolded, were found bullet-riddled in Baghdad. Four other bodies, each showing signs of horrific torture, were found in Shula. Three other tortured, bullet-shattered bodies were found in Yusufiya.

76 American soldiers were killed in Iraq during the month of April, the highest count since November of 2005. It had been almost peaceful until April came along. After all, only 31 troops died in March, only 55 died in February, only 62 died in January, and only 68 died in December. The first soldier to die in May was killed on Monday night by a roadside bomb outside Baghdad. The total for the entire conflict now stands at 2,405.

The good news for April is that, according to the Department of Defense, only 12 soldiers were wounded. 489 had been wounded in March, so April represented a big leap forward. A lot fewer soldiers ended April with their brains scrambled, their limbs maimed or their flesh charred. The fact that most of the wounded up and died isn't really something to be discussed in polite company. It just doesn't jibe with the "turning point" talk.

Oh, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that the need for military blood donations has skyrocketed. "Injuries caused by insurgent attacks in Iraq have forced military donation centers to meet supply levels that exceed peacetime needs," reported the Tribune. "The demand for blood - almost all of which goes to a battlefield - has grown 400 percent since the war in Iraq began."

It seems, as we celebrate this "turning point," that there is blood aplenty in Iraq. Unfortunately, it is all in the wrong place. So, apparently, is the money. Billions of taxpayer dollars have been funneled into Iraq for reconstruction of the petroleum industry and basic infrastructure. Almost none of this reconstruction has been completed, despite the fact that most of the money has somehow been spent. This was the perfect capitalist war: a few people got very rich by stealing all these funds, and the children who have no schools and the families who have neither clean water nor electricity can go pound sand. Literally.

Our "turning point" in Iraq means we can now concentrate on making another disastrous error in Iran. Bush and the crew are pushing for a United Nations resolution for sanctions against Iran, an attempt to curb that nation's alleged nuclear ambitions. There is a lot of tough talk flying around, all of which is as substantial as smoke. China and Russia won't let any sanctions against Iran pass the Security Council, so the point of this quasi-diplomatic effort is difficult to find.

The trouble, of course, is that nobody quite knows what Iran is up to. America had an intelligence network aimed at Iran's nuclear capabilities, but that network hasn't been in place for three long years. CIA agent Valerie Plame, you see, was the one running that network. Because her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had the temerity to publicly question the Bush administration's right to lie with impunity regarding the threat posed by Iraq, agent Plame was outed by the White House as punishment. In the three years since that happened, our knowledge of Iran's activities has devolved into a big black hole. It's a good thing for all of us this administration cares so much about our national security.

Never fear, however. All this depressing information will soon be much more difficult to come by, even without White House criminals trashing intelligence networks to exact some political revenge. Newly-minted White House chief of staff Josh Bolten has signaled his desire to end the traditional publicly-televised daily press conferences with the White House press secretary. This will take a load off Tony Snow's mind, to be sure, and will save the rest of us from having to hear so many sad, disquieting, disturbing facts.

Bill Maher, host of the HBO program "Real Time," threw a thought for George W. Bush against the wall during his closing monologue the other night. "You govern like Billy Joel drives," said Maher to Bush. "You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a s****y president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes. On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon, and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side."



William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.

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