Saddam Is Monica:
The Scandal That Scuttled Powell's Case
It's hard for many Americans to see that Saddam Hussein has become George Bush's Monica Lewinsky. Bush's argument for war flops because the world is having trouble keeping a straight face; it has a sense of history.
Clinton launched cruise missiles to try to escape the consequences of putting his cigar in the wrong place, but Bush and his gang are prepared to launch World War III to patch over the wreckage of their naughty escapades with the bad boy of Baghdad. The duplicity of America's last twenty years in Iraq has reached its scandalous zenith, and the whole world is laughing in the gallows.
Rumsfeld said Saddam is so bad, no-one would cross the street to shake his hand. But the world heard him say, "I did not have sex with that woman!" After all, Rumsfeld crossed an ocean to shake hands with Saddam in 1983, starting an arms sale bonanza for US corporations, a flow of chemicals and biological stocks to launch Iraq's CBW effort, and years of high-level US intelligence and battle planning services for Iraq's hideous chemical and biological warfare against Iran.
But now, though the US, Israel, and several other nations continue to develop and stockpile such weapons, we're told that finding them in Iraq would be the "smoking gun", a veritable semen stain on a blue dress.
It's all part of a long and increasingly vain US effort to paint Saddam as the fallen Man from Hope, a power-mad Slick Willie of unspeakably vile morals who took advantage of well-intentioned US support. But the world isn't fooled. It knows that Saddam is really the intern-on-the-make in this tryst, the self-promoting rube who foolishly thought he could take liberties with his cigar-chomping dalliance under the desk of world power.
Of course, the truly piquant touch, the pièce de résistance of this scandal, is the sight of George Bush's runt son pleading for a second war on Iraq. Not sufficiently destroyed, Iraq must now feel "shock and awe" (the Pentagon's phrase) under the superior might of George Bush II. But people like this are always afraid you won't get the point. So in case you didn't really savor the absurdity of a "democracy" waging a Freudian war, Bush, Jr. brought back all the stars of the Reagan/Bush defense/foreign policy teams, the very boys who were sleeping with Saddam back in the go-go Eighties, so they could all be hypocrites together, and kill even more people in the Middle East. Even Bush whines that this all seems "like the rerun of a bad movie."
Yes, America's long scandal with Saddam is rich, far juicier in its lust for the morally obtuse and the intellectually absurd than that domestic tempest that turned on "what the meaning of is, is." This administration has taken Clinton's moral relativism into hyperdrive, declaring that there are no limits to utter hypocrisy, if only you have enough power. The neo-cons' supercharged propaganda machine renders even the CIA superfluous in their thrust to destroy Saddam. They've left the once-racy Clinton and his vicious character-kills sucking dust in the weeds.
As heir to this twenty-year scandal of war crime adultery, Bush, Jr. can wield many assets not available to an upstart groper from Arkansas. Like the Comeback Kid before his 'confession', Bush has exhausted the public's faith in his ability to tell the truth. But why should he confess? He can send Colin Powell to the UN, to make his lame excuses sound new on an intelligent tongue.
No soap. Just as we wouldn't have swallowed another rehash of Clinton's sex denials from Warren Christopher, Secretary Powell's pinch-hit was a strike out with the Security Council. He must have been hoping that Council members don't read the newspapers, where most of his threadbare laundry had already been checked and thrown in the discard pile. The claim of mobile CBW factories was investigated and discounted by Hans Blix. The CIA and IAEA trashed the aluminum tubes story months ago. UNMOVIC has already investigated a US claim that Iraq scraped a site clean just before inspectors arrived; they found nothing to support the allegation. And the supposed Al-Qaeda connection remains as flimsy and implausible as ever.
Powell's "communications intercepts" may have been real, or not. Unfortunately, the US has built such a history of evidence fabrication that the world now trusts our intelligence claims about as much as we trusted the Cold War pages of Pravda. The recent UK government dossier on Iraq, which Powell praised to the UN as "a fine paper [that] describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities", is now known to be a fraud plagiarized from academic articles. And Bush considers a new Pentagon department dedicated to telling lies to the world.
Powell masterminded the First War of Iraqi Obliteration, so he was a natural for the role of "dove" in this administration. Blinded by blowback from his own propaganda, he couldn't see that he stood before the Council with the wasted blood of a nation on his hands, pleading for more. Ignoring the scandal mocking him from the shadows, the General dutifully drycleaned the fraying fabric of old lies, bad leads, and disinformation until, in the dim light of American public knowledge, it might be mistaken for a compelling argument for war. But the rest of the world saw it for what it was; a familiar, and still badly stained, blue dress.
James Brooks of Worcester, Vermont, (email@example.com) is an independent researcher and former business owner whose articles have been published by Dissident Voice, Media Monitors Network, and several other sites and newspapers. Currently Mr. Brooks serves as webmaster for Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel, and publishes News Links, a free daily e-mail digest of Middle East news and commentary. To subscribe, contact firstname.lastname@example.org