Morning Report 10/14/05Iraq and a Hard Place


Cheap headline pun can’t mask coming fracture

Sgt. Chad Chisholm/U.S. Army


True grit: A soldier from the 42nd Infantry Division, doing real work instead of the flacking that his unit’s PR person did yesterday for Bush, tries to conduct a reconnaissance sweep at Balad Air Base in Iraq during a sandstorm

Before we find out the results of tomorrow’s voting in Iraq, keep in mind that the fix is in. But not the kind that assured George W. Bush of victory through shady dealings in Florida and Ohio.

Yes, it’s the same kind of propaganda manufactured by Sinclair and other Bush allies during the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign. But the result is likely to be slightly different.

Yesterday’s videoconference infomercial starring Bush and some soldiers merely followed more phony baloney passed off to Iraqis the day before. As the Washington Post reports, Iraqi TV showed footage of old dancing in the street but called it new dancing in the street after the latest of many trumpeted “last-minute accords” between Shiites and Sunnis. From today’s story by Ellen Knickmeyer and Omar Fekeiki:

State television, controlled by loyalists of the Shiite religious party that leads Iraq’s transitional government, aired what it described as live footage of crowds dancing in the streets of the Shiite holy city of Najaf to celebrate the accord.

The scenes were actually filmed earlier in the week — before the agreement was reached — as shopkeepers and a reporter watched. No such celebrations were seen in the streets of Najaf on Wednesday.

The corruption that’s finally floating to the surface over here — Hey, Roto-Rooter man! — masks the ineptness of the Bush regime’s handling of its unjustified invasion of Iraq. We need to investigate Wampumgate, Kazakhgate, the oil-for-slush scandal, Plamegate, and all the rest — we need to do it for the sake of our own democracy. But all that focus on the style of what the Bush handlers have done obscures the reality of the havoc they’ve wreaked.

Here’s another aspect we can all relate to: You know how easy it is to lie about something but how difficult it is to keep that lie going. Life becomes much more of a headache as you spend more and more time justifying, explaining, and, yes, lying some more — all to cover your ass. I’m not telling anybody anything new.

Well, as the Washington Post points out today, the Bush regime’s so preoccupied with fighting off investigations, probes, proddings, and pokings that when it comes to making major decisions, it’s paralyzed and even more inept than usual.

Even before the scandals oozed to the surface, Bush’s handlers were in trouble. For crying out loud, these people can’t even get imperialism right. It’s bad enough that Bush’s cluster of neocons and religious nuts and military industrialists schemed some dangerous ideas. What’s even more destabilizing is that they couldn’t pull off their absurd plan to seize Iraq’s oil, guarantee security for Israel, and settle in for a millennium of peaceful rule over billions of Muslims.

What we have instead is civil war in Iraq and a more dangerous world in general.

The invasion was a stupid idea right from the start, and the Bush regime cynically used the 9/11 horror to birth this Damien:

Seize Iraq from Saddam Hussein, set up a puppet government, privatize the economy so U.S. firms could pillage petrol and other profits. Did we not know the history of Iraq’s ugly sectarian battles? As I pointed out a while back, the neocons themselves had to have known. Yet, we ignored that by smashing all of Iraq’s national institutions when we invaded. Now, of course, we want a “unified Iraq.” Madness.

We knew all this even before we re-elected Bush. Can you believe it?

And a fractured Iraq will be even more dangerous for planetary stability. Basically, the Kurds will continue to run their own nation in the north, and the Shiites will solidify their control of the south. Central Iraq, from Baghdad west to Syria, will get more and more dangerous — potentially a Little Big Horn for our poor soldiers.

Abbas J. Ali, a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, breaks down the breakdown in yesterday’s Jordan Times. I’ll let him blab for a while:

Paul Bremer, the head of the occupation authority, had been able to recruit communal and sectarian individuals, and ethnic warlords, to assume political positions. The primary aim was to obscure national and patriotic issues, while highlighting differences rather than integration. Bremer was successful in enacting a flawed interim constitution in defiance of the will and desire of the majority of the Iraqi people.

The religious authority in Najaf denounced the interim constitution and warned of its illegitimacy and threat to the existence and integrity of the country.

The framers of the interim constitution, the neoconservatives Noah Feldman and Larry Diamond, acting upon Paul Wolfowitz‘s instructions, had designed it in a way that ensures the dictatorship of an ethnic minority and the future disintegration of the country.

In an interview on March 9, 2004, Feldman defended his design, stating that the interim constitution “reflects the fact that the Kurds have been running their own show and have no desire to change that.” What Feldman failed to mention is what Wolfowitz once proudly stated: that this situation in northern Iraq was created and protected by Washington.

Like the interim constitution, the new draft constitution guarantees freedom of expression, religious and political affiliation, along with equal treatment of all Iraqis. Simultaneously, the new draft constitution maintains the serious flaws of the interim constitution. These flaws will eventually lead to the end of Iraq as a country and, at best, perpetuate strife and national unrest.

It’s kinda funny, in a tragic way, that Feldman once likened the new Iraqi constitution to Canadian federalism, calling the Iraqi document “Quebec plus.” Yeah, Feldman, as in ne plus ultra, eh? Right.

All the haggling over various parts of the constitution is secondary, says Ali:

Critics claim that these flaws render all constitutional articles pertaining to freedom and liberty useless. In its editorial on Oct. 6, the Washington Post argued that there are “many flaws in the proposed constitution, but the most serious is its facilitation of a de facto partition of Iraq into several mini-states.”

And not a mini-disaster for peace prospects in the Middle East, but a major one.