What's Left

April 1, 2003

If only Americans were as good as their leaders in recognizing where their own interests lie

By Stephen Gowans

It's not that Cheney, Perle, Rumseld, Rice and Powell are Munchausens and tartuffes that makes them so odious to so many. A competent liar and hypocrite can be admired for his competence. But this lot, bold as they are in the arts of deception, and unparalleled in their hypocrisy, can't even be called competent.

Let's listen to what these unelected corporate top guns who run American foreign policy had to say about operation "liberate" Iraq, in those heady days before the first shots were fired, when everybody from Pentagon bigwigs to grunts hunkered down in Kuwaiti sandstorms, thought the American blitzkriegers would be welcome with open arms by Iraqis champing at the bit to be liberated of their lives, homes, security and oil.

Richard Perle: "We need not send substantial ground forces into Iraq when patriotic Iraqis are willing to fight to liberate their country." 1

Dick Cheney: "After liberation in Basra and Baghdad, the streets are sure to erupt in joy, in the same way the throngs in Kabul greeted the Americans." 2

Colin Powell: "I've seen it in a number of crises...Whether it was going into Panama or the Gulf war, where public opinion is against you until the moment of truth comes when you go in and you liberate a people and you create a better life for that country, for the people of that country. Then you see that public opinion will change." 3

Condoleeza Rice: "This is a chance for the Iraqi people to liberate themselves of oppression." 4

Richard Perle: "Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder." 5

Dick Cheney: "I think it will go relatively quickly...weeks rather than months." 6

Now, let's listen to Pentagon boss Donald Rumsfeld, after the people of Iraq showed themselves to be a good deal more sceptical about the administration's intentions than the American people are, and a good deal less hospitable to the invading throngs than was anticipated.

"Oh, goodness...we've never had a timetable. We've always said it could be days, weeks, or months and we don't know. And I don't know. And I don't think you need a timetable." 7

Oh, goodness, you'd think Donnie had been overdosing on the Metamucil he used to sell when he headed up G.D. Searle, because this sure sounds like a load of crap.

Let's also listen to an unnamed US official, who, having discovered that Iraqi opposition hasn't melted away with the first whiff of gunpowder, says that "we" are prepared to take heavy casualties. "We are not going to do anything other than ensure that this regime goes away. If that means there will be a lot of casualties, then there will be a lot of casualties." 8

What our intrepid stay-at-home-out-of-the-line-of-fire official is saying is that now that it's plain Iraqis aren't going to fall for the ruse about being liberated (and why should they? -- they never believed Colonel Blimp either when he tried to pull the wool over their eyes in 1917 with the same lie), US officials are prepared to commit to a battle plan that destroys more lives, Iraqi and American, to arrive at their final goal: the charmed circle of American capitalism, where Raytheon, General Electric, Lockheed Martin and other war industry titans supply the means of destroying Iraqi infrastructure, while other giants of the US corporate realm get to rebuild what their corporate compatriots knocked down.

The lucre to grease the wheels of this tidy scheme will come from sales of Iraqi oil, the theft of which was adumbrated last August by Senator Richard Lugar. "As part of our plan for Iraq, in addition to identifying the political leadership and the coalition and building democracy, we're going to run the oil business...we're going to run it well, we're going to make money, and it's going to help pay for the rehabilitation of Iraq." 9 Gee, and I thought the invasion--which isn't about oil, definitely not about oil--wasn't a done deal back then.

In case you haven't quite caught on to how this works, "The United States, already facing an initial $75-billion bill for fighting the war, wants control [of Iraq] but would like to tap into the oil-for-food program, frozen offshore Iraqi government assets, oil revenue and contributions from third countries." 10

Who wouldn't want this deal? Washington sells the oil Bush keeps saying belongs to the Iraqi people, to pay American firms to rebuild the roads, sewage treatment facilities, refineries, and buildings that other American firms supplied the bombs, missiles, tanks and bombers the Pentagon used to wreck.

Needless to say, the US officials who bravely commit to take more causalities won't be among the casualties, but they'll be hailed nevertheless for their resolve by American news outlets that now vie with one another to see which can insinuate itself farthest up the ass of the unelected parcel of boardroom cowboys that runs the country. Having fired reporter Peter Arnett for daring to speak the truth, NBC (owned by war contractor, General Electric, a company that does a roaring business out of war) has taken the lead. It's now so far up the rogues' collective colons that it's qualified for a licence to practice proctology on the privileged. Announced Britain's tabloid The Daily Mirror, which quickly hired Arnett, "Fired by America for telling the truth...hired by the Daily Mirror to carry on telling it."

What's largely unnoticed in US officialdom's willingness to send more American troops to their doom, is the quasi-religious significance of the idea of making the supreme sacrifice, the usual codswallop trotted out by American supremos to make the loss of young men and women in foreign adventures seem noble, when the goal of those adventures is often no nobler than to bump up the share price of corporate worthies like Raytheon and Bechtel. Raytheon, Bechtel, and other corporate titans poised to make a killing (after the killing) in Iraq,  are hardly worth making the supreme sacrifice for, though the companies' shareholders and executives would hardly agree. They're the ones who tell employees about to be ashcanned that it's all for the good of the company and its shareholders, so surely they can see all is well with the world.

Still, most people, having nothing to gain from war profiteers getting swankier boardrooms, would disagree. Which is why these crass commercial and material interests are hidden behind folderol about liberation and national security and making a better life for Iraqis, folderol NBC is happy to pass along to both the public and ultimately to its parent, General Electric's, bottom-line. "Here's a bullet through your head. Isn't life better, now?"

It is the job of people like Bush to make these lies appear convincing, something, were it not for the elite-friendly American habit of putting one's brain into energy-saver mode whenever the President speaks, he would be failing miserably at. Elsewhere in the world, where people are not bound by the same chains -- "patriotism" in Uncle Sam's jargon -- Bush is seen to be what he is: a brazen liar, war monger, and menace to the peace and security of everyone in the world, Americans, especially Americans, included.

What goes unnoticed in all this reverence about young Americans making the supreme sacrifice  is the parallel with the Islamic martyrdom operation. The latter is scorned in the West, as fanaticism at its worst,  and while it is indeed fanaticism, it hardly compares to the fanatical pursuit of profit that drives Washington to push its citizens to make the supreme sacrifice time after time in war after war (yes, the US is a peaceful country -- who could ever doubt that?) But how is being blown apart for Bechtel different from being blown apart for Allah? In both cases, young men and women, gulled by a lie, die for a cause they cannot profit from, being urged on by someone in a position of privilege who would never be so stupid as to do the same.

Much as Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, Bolton, DeLay, Ashcroft and Libby are scorned for not serving in Vietnam, you have to admire them for being smart enough to see where their self-interest lay. Would that other Americans would do the same. What the chickenhawks need to be reviled for is not avoiding service in Vietnam, but for preying on the gullibility of their compatriots, urging them to fight wars they would never fight themselves, wars that enrich themselves and people like them, while leaving the gullible either dead, bereft of loved ones, or empty of pocket. For credulous Americans who die as martyrs for Bechtel or gullible Arabs who die as martyrs for Islam, their memories will be revered...for a few moments, anyway.

Throw off your patriotism, Americans -- you have nothing to loose but your continually getting screwed.

1. "Resistance clogs road to Baghdad," The Globe and Mail, April 1, 2003.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. "US war plan takes withering fire," The Globe and Mail, March 31, 2003.
6. "Resistance clogs road to Baghdad," The Globe and Mail, April 1, 2003.
7. Ibid.
8. "US says it's willing to take heavy causalities, The Ottawa Citizen, April 1, 2003.
9. "Make Iraq pay for war, U.S. senator says," Globe and Mail, 2 August 2002.
10. "War will last until Hussein is defeated, leaders say," The Globe and Mail, March 28, 2003.


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