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Chestnuts Roasting in an Iraqi Fire (A Fantasia)

Chestnuts Roasting in an Iraqi Fire (A Fantasia)

By Bernard Weiner
The Crisis Papers

(The following pre-war transcript of a conversation between Bush, Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld cannot be verified. But it passes the smell test; see what you think.)

Cheney: It works like this, Mr. President, based on the "fait accompli" concept.

Bush: I don't speak French, Dick.

Rove: It means that by simply doing it, one makes something an "accomplished deed," an "irreversible fact."

Bush: I'm still lost.

Rumsfeld: What Dick and Karl are trying to say, sir, is that it doesn't really matter how we get the U.S. engaged in Iraq, though we do think we've come up with a winner: Saddam has "weapons of mass destruction" that he can use on American citizens and on our allies in the region -- chemical, biological, nuclear, he's got them all.

Bush: He does? Nobody told me.

Cheney: Well, no, he doesn't really have them. That'll just be our excuse for launching the invasion. It'll scare the bejusus out of everyone, and --

Rumsfeld: And that's where "fait accompli" comes in. You see, sir, it doesn't really matter whether Iraq does or doesn't have those terrible weapons -- or whether we can trick the public into believing there's a relationship between Saddam and 9/11 -- since our boots will be on the ground. The war will be on. There will be no turning back, an "irreversible deed."

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Bush: But the American people may feel that we fooled them and got them to approve a war based on false premises. We'd be in big trouble if that happened.

Rove: Don't worry. When wars begin, Americans always rally around The Leader; nobody wants to be "unpatriotic" in support of our brave young troops. Besides, if that kind of oppositon were to surface later, we can always say it was the fault of those analysts at the CIA and State Department who fed us bad intelligence. We didn't make any mistakes -- it was them.

Bush: Just like for 9/11, right?

Cheney: You got it. But, again, how we got into the war is not the point; what Rummy is talking about is, if we have to, playing pin the tail on the the patsy. The point is that by using the concept of "fait accompli," none of that matters. What matters is the accomplished fact that we will have invaded and occupied Iraq -- for their own good, of course.

Bush: But I'm sure I'll be asked by some nosy reporter whether, if we made a mistake in how we got in, why didn't we just say so and back our way out of that situation?

Cheney: Well, the cold truth is that we don't want to get out of that situation; we got in for very good geopolitical reasons, and we're going to stay as long as we can. This so we can control the oil flow, have military bases from which to operate in the Middle East, help our ally Israel, and engender a mass movement for democratization in the region -- that is to say, install U.S.-friendly governments in those lands where things are shaky for us at the moment.

Bush: But I can't say any of that to the American people. They wouldn't understand, and we'd be in big trouble in Congress. Maybe even risk impeachment.


Rove: Exactly. You won't say any of that, Mr. President. What you can say is that regardless of how we wound up in Iraq -- leave it vague like that -- our troops are going to be faced with a life-or-death situation and must be supported. And why, sir?

Bush: I know the answer! I know the answer! It's the old "fait accompli." Our occupation is a fact of life, we have no choice now but to fight on through.

Rove: And if we don't stay the course, what would happen, sir? Remember the drill?

Bush: Then our brave young men and women would have died in vain.

Cheney: Right! You got it on the first try!

Rummy: In order that those brave young men and women will not have died in vain, we must send more brave young men and women to die for them.


Bush: This all reminds me of the oil business back in Texas. When my companies started to go under, I went to my Daddy and his Saudi friends who lent me heaps of money to keep the companies afloat. When that didn't work, I went back to them and borrowed some more. And when worse turned to worst, I sold the outfits and left the mess for the new owners to deal with.

Cheney: I get what you're trying to say, sir, but in such situations good businessmen cut their losses early and get out. Not a good analogy to use in public. In this war, we definitely want to stay.

Rove: But the beauty of it is that we can accuse anybody opposed to our war effort as "cut-and-run" defeatists, traitors who "won't support the troops." The Democrats will be forced to play along or risk being smeared with the "unpatriotic" brush, accused of doing the work of "the terrorists." Believe me, those Democrats will cave like the pansies they are.

Bush: I heard a phrase once. Something like "pulling our chestnuts out of the fire." The Democrats would have to help us out or face the political consequences.

Cheney: That's it again, sir! You are so sharp.


Bush: "Pull our chestnuts out of the fire." I love that! If the Democrats don't reach in to help, then America's nuts get consumed in the flames. The Dems have to help as good, patriotic citizens. You guys are so clever.

Cheney: The only thing we ever have to worry about is the war going so badly someday that virtually everyone -- the generals, the press, the Democrats, the bloggers, everybody -- agrees that it was a big mistake and it's time to get out. We Republicans could possibly lose a midterm election, say, and the Democrats could take over and decide it was high time to end the conflict. And we Republicans would be blamed for a failed war. It's so unfair!

Rove: Won't happen. This will be the right war at the right time in the right place -- with no other Superpower on the planet to stop us, and nothing but towelheads with old rifles to fight us. With veteran national-security honchos like Rummy and Dick in full charge of events on the ground, we can only succeed. It's shock & awe time, baby. In war, as in domestic policy, we'd rather people fear us and obey than love us and dissent. We'll make sure that the Democrats will stay a powerless voice in the political wilderness. Besides, because our friends make the voting machines and count the ballots, there's no way the Dems can take over Congress -- unless there were to be a sea-change in the body politic, and that'll never happen while I'm in charge.

Cheney: Anyway, even if the absolute worst were to happen -- that we FUBAR the post-war occupation and civil war breaks out -- we can always agree to share some of the responsibility of the failed policy with the Democrats. They're so hungry to get back into the political-power game that they'll jump at the chance to be players. Then, when they sign onto our Iraq "compromise" plan, they'll be dead ducks for the next presidential election: In the public mind, the Democrats will be tarred along with us on Iraq. That would negate the war issue, and we can slide Jeb right into the White House.

Bush: Awesome!


Bernard Weiner, a playwright and poet, has written numerous satires and fantasias about the Bush Administration ( ). A Ph.D. in government & international relations, he has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked as a writer-editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers ( To comment: .

First published by The Crisis Papers and Democratic Underground 11/28/06.

Copyright 2006 by Bernard Weiner.

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