Iraqi Freedom (To Do What We Tell You)
By Brad Radcliffe
Before invading Iraq, the Bush team tried several arguments
before they found one that stuck. First it was "Saddam Hussein's
support of 9-11 terrorists." Eventually, even the administration
didn't seem to believe it, so that line was abandoned.
Then there was "regime change" - we were supposed to believe
that the Saddam Hussein's brutal dictatorship posed a direct
and imminent threat to the United States, despite his decimated
forces since the first Gulf War and ten years of economic
sanctions. In retrospect, critics of the war say that the
ease in which the American military ripped through the Iraqi
defenses shows that its military was never a threat.
When that excuse didn't flutter pulses, the Bush team moved
into the "tons and tons of weapons of mass destruction stockpiled
by a sadist who gassed his own people!" Despite the weapons
inspectors in situ who could find nothing, we were told that
Saddam had biological and chemical weapons and was ready to
deliver them at a moment's notice. And now key Iraqi scientists
with comic book names - Chemical Ali, Dr. Anthrax, and Mrs.
Germ - have been caught and interrogated.
The result: nothing. U.S. weapons teams have all but given
up finding the putative massive stockpiles of chemical weapons
that once posed such an imminent threat to America, and even
Bush and his team have fallen strangely silent on this point.
The one reason for going to war that did poll well
was "bringing democracy to Iraq." For breathes there an American
with soul so dead that she doesn't want political freedom
for others? Not a real American! Once this excuse was shown
to resonate, the White House media team touted it like an
e-mail spammer selling herbal Viagra.
In a widely-aired April 28th speech to Iraqi Americans in
Michigan, Bush said, "People who live in Iraq deserve the
same freedom that you and I enjoy here in America. (Applause.)
And after years of tyranny and torture, that freedom has finally
arrived. (Applause.) . . .The Iraqi people are fully capable
of self-government. Every day Iraqis are moving toward democracy
and embracing the responsibilities of active citizenship."
In his stage-managed jet landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln
May 2nd, Bush said, "We're helping to rebuild Iraq . . . we
will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish
a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. The transition
from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth
every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done.
Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq."
We're all clear on that, right? "A government of, by, and
for the Iraqi people . . ."
Why then is the administration's point man in Iraq, the
colonial governor handpicked by the Bush team, saying something
totally contrary to Bush's unqualified support of democracy?
Consider this from a Knight/Ridder
article dated May 27th - "L. Paul Bremer III, the top
U.S. official in Iraq, declared a 'new era' for the nation
and spoke of selecting leaders for a new government. Yet many
Iraqis warned that they will resist any U.S.-imposed government,
demanding that a national congress be held this summer . .
. . Bremer and other American reconstruction leaders are distancing
themselves from calls for a national congress and say they
will choose the country's interim leaders."
Select the country's leaders? Since when are democratically
elected leaders selected by a small handpicked minority
(well, since the last presidential election in the United
States, that is)? But wait, there's more.
"'America has two choices: One is to force things on the
Iraqi people, and the second is to listen to the Iraqi people,'
said Hamid al-Bayati, a spokesman for the Supreme Council
for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. 'If they try to force
things on us, they will repeat Saddam's mistakes.'"
That warning didn't stop our colonial governor from rejecting
Iraqi control of the "democratic" process. "On Monday, Bremer
pointedly refused to endorse their plan for a national congress,
and sources said the former ambassador is steadfast in his
belief that he and the United States have ultimate authority
over who runs the new government."
So there you have it - Mr. Bush stands on the rolling deck
of an aircraft carrier and paraphrases the Gettysburg Address
declaring that Iraqis will have full freedom to nominate and
elect their national leaders. When Iraqis move toward democracy
however, Mr. Bush's man unequivocally rejects any process
that doesn't give the Bush team "ultimate authority." And
since that authority is maintained by rifles and tanks, the
Iraqis don't seem to have much choice.
That's a new definition of democracy that I'm sure would
have left Mr. Webster astonished - rule by the "ultimate authority"
of government, or worse yet, rule by the ultimate authority
of a foreign government. In my dictionary, the former is called
fascism, the latter is called imperialism. When Mr. Bush said
"the Iraqi people are fully capable of self-government," he
apparently meant only so long as that "self-government" serves
U.S. interests and yields to U.S. control.
Operation Iraqi Freedom - freedom to do exactly as Mr. Bush
tells you to do. Yes, Iraq is looking more like the U.S. everyday.