For mile after mile south of Baghdad yesterday, the story was the same: empty police posts, abandoned Iraqi army and police checkpoints and a litter of burnt-out American fuel tankers and rocket-smashed police vehicles down the main highway to Hillah and Najaf. It was Afghanistan Mk2. Yes, it is a shameful reflection on our invasion of Iraq - let us solemnly remember “weapons of mass destruction” - but it is, above all, a tragedy for the Iraqis. They endured the repulsive Saddam. They endured our shameful UN sanctions. They endured our invasion. And now they must endure the anarchy we call freedom.
The differences thrust in my face while returning home to America from Iraq are glaring. It starts with the little things. That I could even leave Iraq to come to a Western country felt?well, simply unjust and unfair. My Iraqi friends don?t have that option. I went to see the movie Fahrenheit 9/11 last night. Just that I can go see a movie in safety is an oddity to me now. In addition, the options for fun and relaxation here are only limited by my own imagination. The one amusement park in Baghdad, Fun City, has been closed since the war. Hanging out in a park there is a good way to get kidnapped or looted. There are no movie theaters, or they would most certainly be the target of a car bomb.
Two of Australia?s most distinguished newspapers reported on Saturday two independent claims that Iyad Allawi, the USA-installed Iraqi interim prime minister, personally murdered six handcuffed and blindfolded prisoners in June this year. The newspapers seem to have had the story for several weeks, deciding to publish on July 17, after “the failure by Iraqi and US officialdom to mount convincing denials”. Thus far, no major USA newspaper or television network has reported the allegations, which, if substantiated, should result in the immediate arrest of Allawi on murder charges. The same media that promoted last year?s invasion with stories of murder, torture and rape-rooms under Saddam Hussein is displaying no interest in the growing evidence that the USA-installed regime of Allawi will rule in essentially the same fashion.
Farish A. Noor
One of the many frustrations of academics like myself who teach politics and history is having to deal with insolent students who raise the irritating question: “What is the relevance of all this, since everything you have taught us has passed and is no longer relevant in the present?” On a bad day I would be inclined to pick up a hefty classical text and try my best to aim it at the head of the ingrate in question, hoping that upon its landing on the hard skull across the room the victim?s IQ level would have risen by a point or two. But these days, thanks to the ?benevolent imperialism? of the United States of America, I can say that what I teach does make sense and is indeed relevant for the sad times we live in.
At the height of his power, Joseph McCarthy appeared invincible. Beginning in 1950, the senator from Wisconsin made a name for himself by claiming that the USA government employed hundreds of communists. For the next four years, no one in Washington dared stand up to McCarthy’s witch hunting. Yet his over-reach soon prompted the establishment to regard him as an unsteady extremist and to turn against him. Within months, the USA Senate had voted overwhelmingly to censure the demagogue, and McCarthy’s career was finished. Fifty years later, USA President George W. Bush is about to suffer the same fate.
The battle for Iraq’s sovereign future is a battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. As things currently stand, it appears that victory will go to the side most in tune with the reality of the Iraqi society of today: the leaders of the anti-USA resistance. Not only has the United States failed to put into place a viable government to replace the CPA in the aftermath of the so-called “transfer of sovereignty,” but more importantly, it continues to misidentify the true nature of the Iraqi insurgency. As a consequence, the resistance will inevitably continue to flourish and grow until no force can defeat it, Iraqi or American.
Over the last year, I have been preoccupied, as so many of us have, with one thing, Iraq. Iraq, as Bob Woodward puts it in his book Plan of Attack, has “sucked all the oxygen out of the system.” It is the central event of our time, our Spanish Civil War, our Vietnam, and everything else seems to be put on hold both here and in other parts of the world until there is a just and decisive resolution to the terrible situation created by the US invasion and occupation of that country.
"Doublespeak” is a grouping of words that creates an impression of reality, but is mere illusion. This is nothing new. Americans used doublespeak to deceive North American Indians into leaving their ancestral lands. Americans made promises and treaties carefully worded to create one impression, but later found to mean something entirely different. The Indians, dispossessed, complained that “white men” spoke with “forked tongue.” Their language had no word to describe Americans? especially duplicitous form of lying. “Forked tongue” ? a split-ended snake?s tongue going two opposite ways ? was as close as they could come to describe an American mouth in which one set of single-sounding words came out in two opposite-meaning directions.
The brewing cauldron that has been simmering for nearly a year is ready to blow its lid. The quagmire called Iraq is near civil war, anarchy and Balkanization. This witch?s brew concocted by the neocons, George W. Bush and his administration has reached its boiling point, its scorching steam ready to burn us all thanks to the nefarious errors of the delusional few at the top. Their inept mistake will scar America for years to come as the salts of Iraq are poured on our open wounds. Iraq is already one of the worst foreign policy blunders in US history, one that is clearly spiraling further down the sewer of neocon pipedreams into a toxic lake of cynicism, cronyism, corruption and pilferage.
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