Iraqi Hearts, One Corpse at a Time
April 1, 2003
By Phil Lebovits
Fifty-eight Iraqi shoppers were killed the other day as an
errant Cruise missile slammed into a busy Baghdad market.
Tragic as that loss may be, what is more tragic is that these
dead people will never taste the sweet flavor of American-style
democracy. As the recently-expired were mourned by their loved
ones, battles raged all over Iraq to save the still-living
from the yoke of tyranny.
"Give me liberty, or give me death!" the firebrand
Patrick Henry once declared from the halls of the Virginia
statehouse, thus inflaming a public grown weary of British
occupation. His words live on in the hearts and minds of Donald
Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney.
Only this time, that powerful axiom has been rewritten. Let
all proclaim this to the Iraqi people: "We'll give you
liberty and we'll give you death." What a bargain.
While the siege of Baghdad looms ahead in our CNN-addled
minds, we can all take comfort in the knowledge that the Bush
administration has everything under control. Watching that
orderly distribution of food aid to the starving and very
parched citizens of Safwan, who punched and kicked the crap
out of each other to get a box of rice and some falafel mix,
I marveled at how this well-oiled (and I do mean well-oiled)
military machine has already brought relief and comfort to
the stunned people of that wretched land.
I stared in awe (sans the shock) as I watched democracy take
root before my very eyes! The sight of desperation and humiliation
among the dispossessed is such a wonderful thing to witness.
Oh, grow tall and strong, you denizens of this new democracy;
embrace your new country and breathe in the rarified air of
freedom. Sure, it smells like smoke and ash now, but that
will pass. Sure, we just blew up your aunt, but she will pass
too. We, America, are giving you the greatest gift of all…even
if you don't really want it.
Rise up, citizens of that doomed regime, and throw flowers
and kisses our way as we dismantle your police state. The
state we seek to impose will be so much friendlier and will
come in five alluring terror alert colors. We'll rebuild everything
we blow up and we'll make it better. Say goodbye Ministry
of Information and say "howdy" MTV. Say so long
old Republican Guard and say "thank you"
new Republican Guard. (somehow, the GOP never gets
While our smart bombs work their magic, you brave new Iraqis
need to bone up on a new civics, so that when we finally leave
you in 2027, you'll be able to carry on without us. In those
intervening years, we'll instruct you in the fine art of democracy.
We'll teach you all about lobbyists and special interests
groups and how to screw the poorest among you with ill-timed
tax cuts and promises of leaving no child behind.
You'll learn the wondrous ways of our electoral system; how
to campaign by going "negative," and how not to
giggle when the phrase "Al Sharpton for President"
is uttered. You stay the course and we’ll replace hanging
dads with hanging chads. Trust us.
But the road to democracy will not be an easy one. For every
step towards bi-cameral government, a dead camel will be in
the passing lane. Just kick his old carcass outta the way
and honk with happiness as you and your family head to Club
Med Basra in your new SUV, a vehicle that stands as the symbol
of American prosperity and blissful shortsightedness.
A new day is dawning, you sand-choked people of Iraq. The
future is yours. And, with luck and a well-fortified bunker,
some of you might even live to see it.