Morning Report 1/24/05
Off With Their Heads

Fear for the body politic in Iraq

Making the cut: This recent cartoon in the Baghdad daily Al-Mada implies that Iraqi voters will defy the resistance and risk their necks to vote on January 30. (IWPR's Iraqi Press Monitor)

Six days before the U.S. puppet regime's national election in Iraq, rebels are again trying to rock the vote.

The BBC reports this morning that a large blast shook Baghdad this morning—a suicide car bomb blew up inside the Green Zone, near the offices of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's party. Ten people were hurt.

Supporters of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the explosion, according to the BBC.

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Buried in dead seriousness, however, you're always going to find gallows humor, and even Iraqis can't help but laugh while they cry. A decapitated voter dropping his head in the ballot box (see above cartoon) counts in the "mordant" category. Not to mention that the unnamed Iraqi cartoonist's style is eerily reminiscent of that of New Yorker cartoonist Bruce Eric Kaplan. Chalk that up to, well, synchronicity: Kaplan, not only the cartoonist BEK but also a writer on the HBO series Six Feet Under, said in an interview last spring on Zulkey.com, "I guess I am more conscious of death than I used to be."

But not as conscious of it as Iraq's 25 million people. Also today, Agence France Press reported, relayed by the BBC, that two Iraqis who worked for a Lebanese company supplying U.S. troops in Ramadi were beheaded in public.

And for what? The Baghdad paper Al-Sabah notes in an editorial summarized by the Institute for War & Peace Reporting's Ali Mohammed Jawad and Ali Kadhim Marzook in Baghdad:

    The transitional National Assembly has held its final session in Baghdad. It is worth mentioning that the Assembly held 39 sessions throughout its period of work. Assembly members said it had no full authorities and was unable to deal with important issues or solve them.

Face it: The election is being held on January 30 to satisfy the Bush regime. The U.S. will still control the "new government." But the election will be a symbol, Bush's handlers hope, for the POTUS to use in his State of the Union address on February 2.

Iraq is too chaotic and dangerous to have a national election, and the security breakdown is the U.S.'s fault. Jerry Bremer's suzerainty was disastrous—he ordered Iraq's army disbanded, shut down newspapers, among other foolish maneuvers. Meanwhile, toady Bernie Kerik was assigned the job of training security forces and failed miserably to even put in the effort to do so.

The cost of the war—about $7 billion a month—is staggering. There's supposedly no money for social programs in the U.S.: The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting this morning that Upward Bound and Talent Search, which help needy kids go to college, may be eliminated next year to pay for Bush's No Child Left Behind debacle.

Actually, there is money, but there's no political capital to be made by the Bush regime in funding programs for the general welfare of average Americans, whereas in Iraq, there are profits to be made off oil, war, and reconstruction. Hence, the U.S. is just pouring in the money to prop up its misadventure in Iraq. Last October, the Bush regime allocated $871 million for the Iraq elections, a 26 percent increase from its initial budget. Among the monies wasted:

• $40 million for the Iraqi Electoral Commission's "technical capacity."

• $45 million for "a nationwide elections monitoring program."

• $234 million "to support local and provincial government institutions."

• $41 million "to support" the interim government's "national institutions."

• $30 million for the National Endowment for Democracy (brainchild of the Reagan era) "to provide technical assistance and training for moderate and democratic political parties in Iraq."

In some ways, though not regarding the level of violence, Iraqis and Americans are in similar circumstances under the Bush regime. Who do you think is caught in the middle in Iraq? People who yearn to vote—can you blame them? But the timing of the Iraq election is for the benefit of the Bush regime's public posture. Iraqis are still the pawns in this p.r. game by Don Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush gang. And pawns exist to be sacrificed.

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