Look, if Americans can be convinced that the President of the United States is even barely literate, they can be convinced of anything. You know, the fact that any American, any American isn’t embarrassed by the fact that there’s an imbecile in the White House is already a problem.
-- Norman Finkelstein (1)
Professor Finkelstein identifies a gullibility and naivety among a significant sector of the American public that, if true, has disturbing ramifications -- not just for Americans but also for the rest of the world. The consequences are manifest in Iraq. Obviously the invasion of Iraq was never about liberation -- except the liberation of oil from Iraqis.
“Freedom” is a word abused by the regime of George Bush -- now destined for epic ignominy -- in the attempt to impose its authority militarily. Bush’s new order stems from a blueprint of a Zionist-American think tank, the Project for a New American Century, which seeks an unchallenged Pax Americana. (2) Iraq was crucial to American hegemony because of its oil wealth. What should have been a boon to Iraqis has so far been a curse upon them. The neoconservatives’ plan was to militarily occupy Iraq and rule through a puppet government: a de facto colonization. From its bases in Iraq the US would oversee the rest of the resource-rich Middle East. Bush’s Neue Ordnung, in an outrageous public slap-in-the-Arab-face, rewarded its Middle Eastern cop-on-the-beat Israel with more Lebensraum: a US-approved and financed ethnic cleansing of Palestinian land.
Bush’s freedoms are about the humiliation and killing of Arabs. While many Americans were inured to filtered news of the havoc and death wreaked in Iraq, a panoply of photos emerged from American torture camps and brought international shame upon America’s moral authority. It likeliest presages the death knell for the occupation.
Bush should himself sympathize with the humiliation. For Bush, the humiliation started on 9-11 when the US was caught unprepared on his watch despite CIA warnings of an impending attack. Subsequently, Bush’s tell-me-what-I-want-to-hear intelligence led to the shooting down of his abjectly false pretext of Iraqi possession of weapons-of-mass-destruction.
The ungrateful Iraqis have greeted Bush’s liberation forces as anything but, as comments by Iraqis to journalist Dahr Jamail show.
One shop owner named said, “It’s not safe here, for Iraqis or Americans. The Americans attack our homes so much, whether there is a reason or not. The problem is the Americans’ presence here. We will never accept the occupiers!”
A university science student was particularly forthcoming. “The Americans are invaders. They took their authority by invading, and it is worse here than before they came.”
He adds, “They came with a mask of freedom, but we are not free. They brought torture, worse security, and terrorism. They are the terrorists!”
In an ultimate put down he charges that the US stooped to levels below even the dictator Saddam Hussein. “Saddam never closed hospitals to prevent injured people from reaching them. Saddam never killed 2 year-old children!” (3)
Bush’s administration even shuffled back to the UN, derided by Bush as “irrelevant,” with cap-in-hand to help bail out the increasingly costly occupation. Spanish voters booted out his partner José Maria Aznar and much of the remaining coalition became less willing to stick around. Bush was even forced to do something that his father vowed never to do: apologize for the US. It was a rather pathetic apology at that -- an apology triggered only by being found out.
Now the US is reportedly trying to bribe its way out of the gulag scandal. At the Camp War Horse prison in Baguba, US soldiers were, in a “surreal scene,” doling out money to released prisoners with a note stating: “You have not been mistreated.” (4)
Shame all around
If only it were confined to Bush’s self-humiliation it would somehow be more tolerable. By directing US might on a dishonorable course, Bush has encompassed Americans in his imperialist schemes. US servicemen and women were, for the most part, the unwitting pawns in this perfidy. US marine Jimmy Massey came to the realization late in Iraq. He declared, “I killed innocent people for our government. For what? What did I do? Where is the good coming out of it? I feel like I’ve had a hand in some sort of evil lie at the hands of our government. I just feel embarrassed, ashamed about it.” (5)
Events in Iraq have careened out of control. The comments of one woman epitomize the international opprobrium Bush’s policies have reaped the US. Said she, “I’m just getting tired of being embarrassed to be an American.” (6) It is hard to imagine how Bush can electorally survive this. He cannot pull out of Iraq; it would only compound his loss of face. He fenced himself in when he vowed to stay the course.
Yet Bush steadfastly pursues the isolationist course of abjection. The latest self-humiliation is the reinstatement of Ba’athists to power in Iraq. (7)
Americans do indeed have the power to change their government and thereby influence it. Many credit the 1960s antiwar movement as having catalyzed the pull out of American troops from Vietnam. People in solidarity wield power but this power must be used wisely. Surely, with the news of American gulags rolling off the corporate presses now, Americans can realize something sinister is going on in Iraq and take effective action.
Or can they?
arrived in my email box on Sunday, 16 May:
Why is it that a few cents-a-gallon increase in the price of gas stirs such a call to action but the slaughter of Arabs and the occupation of their country rouses the ire of so few in the occupier’s home nation? Instead Arabs are blamed for consumers having to pay more for gas, food, clothing, and sundry other goods. In Iraq it is a death-defying venture to drive on the roads.
One wonders what are the priorities of people in the so-called civilized world?
Right-wingers are pressuring the media to push the torture revelations off the table. (8) Media complicity is required for the next great deceit by the Bush administration: the handover of sovereignty to Iraq on 30 June. First, the US has no right to determine Iraqi sovereignty. Second, any half-reputable observer recognizes that no transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis is about to take place here and Iraqis are not fooled by it -- just like the initial quisling Iraqi Governing Council didn’t fool them.
It is as if the Bush administration revels as much in its own humiliation as the humiliation it sows upon others.
is a writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. He can be reached at:
Other Recent Articles by Kim Petersen
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* The Fairy
Tale of Liberation
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