"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Friday, January 05, 2007

Rattled America Will Find It Can't Spin Itself Out of This One

George Bush will be hard put persuading three, four or five thousand American soldiers, marines and reservists who have already been there to go back to Iraq this year, to face 4 million Sunnis displeased by the Saddam hanging. Hard put too to persuade Nuri al-Maliki to stay in office, and stay alive, till they get there.
In the meantime the spinning of the killing of Saddam continues. The US had nothing to do with it; we merely guarded him for three years, then took him to the house of death and flew his coffined body to Tikrit. We tried to stop it happening so soon. We would have "handled it differently". What's all this fuss? The last 60 seconds of a tyrant's life matter less than the first 60 years. We've killed his two sons and his 14-year-old grandson and we'll kill his half-brother tomorrow, so the "process of national healing" can begin. Has any "process of national healing" been so mismanaged in world history? Has any filmed event won fewer hearts and minds? JFK's killing perhaps, though it pleased a good few Southern schoolboys, who cheered at the news.

If we only look at the politics of lynching a warrior-hero, abusing him on the gallows, keeping him awake the night before by banging on his cell door and flaunting before his bleary eyes the hangman's rope, we can see just how dim the whole plan was. What Sunni will pose beside Maliki now? What Arab leader, Sunni or Shiite, will praise his political skill?

And who will trust the Americans now, after this and Abu Ghraib and hurricane Katrina, to get any process right in any country including their own? Not the British soldiers on the ground in Helmland Province, Afghanistan. Not the Australian "security guards" in downtown Baghdad. Not the Iraqi dentists, doctors, nurses, restaurateurs and university lecturers daily fleeing the country. Not the children with toothache. Not the pregnant women with nowhere to go to give birth. Not the grandmothers of dead babies in humidicribs whose electricity gave out. Not the middle-class parents afraid to put their children on school buses lest they never see them again.

And who in the US will trust the American Army, the State Department and the current American rulers of Baghdad either? Not the 30,000 boys and girls wounded, nor their families. Not the 13,000 or 15,000 parents and siblings bereaved. Not the mayors of the towns the 3000 dead kids came from. Not the Democrat local members Bush is now asking for more soldiers, more weapons, more money, more patience, more time in a Long War as long, perhaps, as the Cold War.

The US is facing outright defeat — and worldwide contempt as never before — because of the Saddam gallows Grand Guignol and the secular Golgotha his jeering, black-hooded captors turned it into. And none of this need have happened. All the cluey US spin-men had to do, after consulting a few legal experts, was yield him up to lengthy trial by the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague; let him give big speeches the media would soon tire of; and let him grow very old and sad in jail.

But they didn't, and the consequences are dire and daily mounting. Soon they'll have Tariq Aziz to deal with. He's a Christian, a friend of Pope John Paul, and literate, well-spoken, Anglicised evidence of how broad-based a secular government Saddam ran, and how much 4 million university graduates, civil servants, medical professionals, lawyers, judges, soldiers, police and schoolteachers miss him now, in a world of veils and checkpoints and daylight kidnappings and suicide bombings and 10,000 policemen killed in two years.

Will Tariq Aziz hang? Will his breaking neck and open eyes and slowly swinging corpse be telerecorded too? Will he be allowed his beloved P. G. Wodehouse and Agatha Christie paperbacks in his cell on death row? Will he get a final press conference? Will he be allowed to wear a suit and tie? What questions will he be allowed to answer?

In freedom's name we have helped the US start this barbarous process. In freedom's name we too are called barbarians now, by fairly civilised peoples who may have a point.

And we Australians are in the thick of it. Staying on, to "finish the job". The job may not be all that's finished by the time we're done.

Bob Ellis is an author and commentator.


The Age Company Ltd.

Stop This War, Now!

The president of the United States does not have the sense God gave a duck—so it’s up to us. You and me, Bubba.

I don’t know why Bush is just standing there like a frozen rabbit, but it’s time we found out. The fact is we have to do something about it. This country is being torn apart by an evil and unnecessary war, and it has to be stopped now.

This war is being prosecuted in our names, with our money, with our blood, against our will. Polls consistently show that less than 30 percent of the people want to maintain current troop levels. It is obscene and wrong for the president to go against the people in this fashion. And it’s doubly wrong for him to send 20,0000 more soldiers into this hellhole, as he reportedly will announce next week.

What happened to the nation that never tortured? The nation that wasn’t supposed to start wars of choice? The nation that respected human rights and life? A nation that from the beginning was against tyranny? Where have we gone? How did we let these people take us there? How did we let them fool us?

It’s a monstrous idea to put people in prison and keep them there. Since 1215, civil authorities have been obligated to tell people with what they are charged if they’re arrested. This administration has done away with rights first enshrined in the Magna Carta nearly 800 years ago, and we’ve let them do it.

This will be a regular feature of mine, like an old-fashioned newspaper campaign. Every column, I’ll write about this war until we find some way to end it. STOP IT NOW. BAM! Every day, we will review some factor we should have gotten right.

So let’s take a step back and note, for example, that before the war one of the architects of the entire policy, Paul Wolfowitz, testified to Congress that Iraq had no history of ethnic strife. Sectarian and ethnic strife is a part of the region. And the region is full of examples of Western colonial powers trying to occupy countries, take their resources and take over the administration of their people—and failing.

The sectarian bloodbath we see daily completely refutes Wolfowitz. And now Bush has given him the World Bank to run. Wonder what he’ll do there.

And let’s keep in mind that when the Army arrived in Baghdad, we, the television viewers, watched footage of a bunch of enraged and joyous Iraqis pulling down the statue of Saddam Hussein, their repulsive dictator, in Firdos Square. Only one thing was wrong. The event was staged. Taking down the statue was instigated by a Marine colonel, and a PSYOP (psychological operations) unit made it appear to be a spontaneous show of Iraqi joy.

When we later saw the whole square, only 30 to 40 people were there—U.S. military people, press and some Iraqis. And a U.S. tank pulled the statue down with a cable. We, the television viewers, saw the square being presented as though the people of Iraq had gone into a frenzy and spontaneously pulled down the statue. Fake images and claims have been a part of this fiasco from the beginning.

We need to cut through all the smoke and mirrors and come up with an exit strategy, forthwith. The Democrats have yet to offer a cohesive plan to get us out of this mess. Of course, it’s not their fault—but the fact is we need leaders who are grown-ups and who are willing to try to fix it. Bush has ignored the actual grown-ups from the Iraq Study Group and the generals and all the other experts, who are nearly unanimous that more troops will not help.

So, as I said, it’s up to you and me, Bubba. We need to make sure that the new Congress curbs executive power, which has been so misused, and asserts its own power to make this situation change. Now.

By Molly Ivins