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Winning 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 the irony).

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.

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