- Normally, the title for this column could be a headline
for The Onion, that hilarious, irreverent New York publication that twists
things around in order to hint at some absurd reality. The Onion presents
fake news and commentary, poking fun at politics, culture, or whatever.
Nothing is off-limits and they do a great job, so normally my title could
serve as one of their satirical jumping off points. After all, how could
the U.S. deploy hundreds of thousands of troops overseas and begin operations
in Northern Iraq without around the clock coverage on CNN? How absurd!
- Well, no actually. Of what do I speak? For starters we
must go offshore, or more accurately, online, to a piece entitled, "Iraq:
In all but name, the war's on," by Marc Erikson in the Asia Times,
published August 17. He notes that back in January, when Bush began talking
about "regime change" in Iraq, he signed an intelligence order
directing the CIA to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. (As a footnote,
this violates U.S. law, but as expected there was very little ballyhoo
about that.) At the time there were approximately 50,000 U.S. and British
troops surrounding Iraq.
- According to Erikson and numerous overseas reports, that
number has quietly grown to well over 100,000 U.S. troops in and around
Iraq. This does not include soldiers, sailors and airmen within the expanded
theater of operations. There have been two main acceleration points: March
and June. A new airfield is operational in Qatar and thousands of U.S.
troops are working with local forces in Iraqi Kurdistan, mapping out targets,
and covertly planning what will be the long awaited major escalation of
a campaign already under way. There's more, much more. On August 9, the
Turkish daily, Hurriyet, reported that 5,000 Turkish troops entered northern
Iraq and took over a key airbase, north of Mosul.
- Meanwhile the Jordanian news agency, Petra, counts thousands
more U.S. troops present to conduct joint exercises with the Jordanian
army. Still thousands more have been added to Kuwait. If you add in the
surrounding region, including allied troops, the number deployed or ready
to attack on short notice may reach upwards of 400,000. So where are the
nightly reports showing tearful loved ones waiving goodbye as their beloved
sons and daughters embark on the latest crusade against the evil doers?
- Undoubtedly many units are being reassigned, but many
more are shipping out under stealth, seemingly without notice. All we seem
to hear about is the stepped up bombing campaign. But then what better
way to start a new war, than to clandestinely create a military situation
with unstoppable momentum?
- So the war is on, begun in cloaked fashion as it were,
during the dog days of summer.
- Given these developments overseas, the factional in fighting
within the Bush administration concerning war with Iraq should be viewed
not as a major turf war, but more as a low-level distraction. (I will eat
those words if Colin Powell were to resign before his term is complete,
preferably pre-invasion.) In fact what the media circus has achieved this
summer is concealment of the aforementioned troop deployments, their actual
missions, and the actual strategy. What fellow pundit John Chuckman calls
"geopolitics by an idiot" was undoubtedly planned months ago.
Even cursory research outside the bounds of acceptable reporting leads
to the inevitable conclusion that it's not a question of 'if' or 'when'
the U.S. attacks Iraq.
- Historically, "The Guns of August" is not exactly
an original, and yet in the age of instant global communication, one marvels
at the truly Orwellian performance. It advances under a barrage of distortions,
half-truths, and outright lies unleashed daily in order to justify blatant
aggression. The White House knows there is no proof linking Iraq to the
events of September 11, and they know the anthrax attacks were, mysteriously,
domestic. Shared hatred of the United States fails to connect Saddam's
tyrannical secular state with Osama's stateless, fanatical Islam.
- Meanwhile, there is the personal testimony of former
chief UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who claims that Saddam's weapons
of mass destruction are largely disarmed, that the 'Iraqi threat' is built
upon a framework of deceit, and that a "handful of ideologues have
hijacked the national security policy of the United States for their own
- And let's not forget Iraq's coveted oil reserves.
- Rather than closely examining any such motives, or the
wisdom, legality, or necessity of an unprovoked invasion of Iraq, and the
certainty of increased misery, mayhem and regional destabilization, the
media prefer to fix their gaze upon the timing of such an attack, on possible
military strategies, and of course, those divisions within the Bush administration.
- It all makes for good gossip amongst the chattering classes.
(Ok, some of it is downright interesting: Like how a small cabal of hawks
centered in the civilian offices of the Pentagon, along with Weekly Standard
editor Bill Kristol, have essentially hijacked U.S. foreign policy.) But
focusing on questions such as whether or not Bush will attack before the
November mid-term elections, or wait until early next year, only serve
to deflect attention from ominous developments on the ground that, in more
honest times, we'd hear at least something. (As late as September 1, the
Toronto Star repeated the official story that a mere 60,000 U.S. troops
are currently in the region.)
- Appointed by the high court, the Bush cabal is as dangerous
a sect as has ever ruled the republic; the best and the brightest ideologues
the Hard Right can offer. It's time to awaken from summer slumber, admit
that they've begun a totally predictable and unnecessary war on Iraq, one
that flies in the face of minimal morality as well as logic. Against the
wishes of nearly the entire planet, they are determined to proceed, no
- A precarious situation, it merely awaits a catalyst,
planned or otherwise, for a justified escalation. Look for the implanting
of Gulf War II psychosis within the malleable American psyche with Bush's
speech to the UN general assembly on September 12. In the coming weeks,
it is expected that the propaganda offensive will rev up to full throttle.
- The absurdity of the situation reminds us that a little
levity is good for the soul, even during dire times. Thankfully, The Onion
continues to pull no punches in its social satire post 9/11 despite the
fact that these are not normal times, and quite clearly, this is a not
a normal administration in Washington. And yet there is nothing funny about
deceiving a population into fighting a war they would not support if only
a few simple facts were laid bare or if relevant developments were actually
being noted by the media this side of the pond. At the risk of losing one's
sense of humor during dire times, we must face the fact that reality has
truly eclipsed satire.
- It may be the first step towards resisting all this madness.
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