A Last Wild Ride on the Titanic

By Mike Whitney

10/12/06 "I
nformation Clearing House" -- -- Yesterday’s report in the Washington Post that over 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the US-led invasion is just the latest bit of bad news to hit the Bush administration. In fact, the buzzards have been circling the White House for some time now and they won’t be leaving anytime soon.

The “peer-reviewed” report from the John Hopkins School of Public Health followed all the standard procedures for producing a thoroughly credible survey. After interviewing nearly 2,000 Iraqi residents, checking death certificates and records at the morgue, they compiled their data and made their calculations. “The same survey methods were used to measure mortality during conflicts in the Congo, Kosovo, Sudan and other regions.”

The Bush administration has never challenged the organization’s findings before. In fact, they used the group’s reckoning on Sudan to accuse the Sudanese government of “genocide”. If that’s true, then Iraq must be “triple-genocide”; an entirely new nomenclature for the premeditated obliteration of the world’s oldest civilization.

Bush adroitly dismissed the report as nonsense assuring the American people that Iraqis are more than willing to “tolerate” the endless bloodshed for their new-found freedom.

At a press conference yesterday, Bush reiterated the familiar mantra that “the violence is being caused by a combination of terrorists and elements of the former regime.” Blah, blah, blah.

He added that:

“We’re on the move; we’re taking action; we’re helping this young democracy succeed.”

Bush’s penchant for deception hasn’t been affected by his plummeting approval ratings.

Never the less, the media shielded Bush from the full-effects of the survey by skillfully diverting attention to a plane crash in Manhattan. Thus, the death of a pitcher for the New York Yankees grabbed the headlines across the nation while the butchery of 650,000 Iraqis was consigned to the back pages.

Typical. America’s crimes are only of interest to scholars and leftists, not to the great body of humanity who are expected to cheer-on our bloody, foreign adventures.

Amazingly, the John Hopkins survey was quickly followed by two more bombshells which helped to paint an even bleaker picture of the ongoing war in Iraq. At a Pentagon press conference, Army chief of staff, General Peter Schoomaker, stated that “the U.S. Army has plans to keep the current level of soldiers in Iraq through 2010.” Schoomaker’s comments not only quashed hopes for an early withdrawal, but left many wondering how the already over-stretched military plans to meet its obligations in the years ahead. As critics have noted, the present course is “unsustainable”.

Just hour’s after Schoomaker has made his remarks, the Head of Allied forces in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey said, “The violence in Baghdad had reached its highest levels in recent weeks, despite the assignment of thousands of more American and Iraqi troops to the capital.”

So, (to summarize) in one 24-hour period, we found out that we’ve killed 2.5% of the entire Iraqi population, that we will maintain the same troop levels for the next 4 years (at minimum) and that our attempts to establish security have only increased the amount of violence.

That’s bad. That’s real bad.

By all accounts the war is failing miserably, and yet, the media continues to cover it up.

How long can that go on?

There are indications that a chasm has developed among elites which some see as a hopeful sign. The last 3 weeks have produced a steady barrage of bad news for the Bush troupe starting with the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) which said that the 16 American intelligence agencies believe that the Iraq war has made Americans “less safe” and generated a whole new generation of potential terrorists.

The NIE report was followed by Bob Woodward’s blockbuster “State of Denial” which showed that the administration made no plans for occupation, pacification, reconstruction or anything else for that matter and that they had consistently misled the public over the intensity of the violence on the ground. The book’s title relates to the fact that Bush and co. are in complete denial over a war, which by every objective standard, is being lost to a emergent nationalist Iraqi resistance. While unsurprising, Woodward’s narrative did manage to put an exclamation point of the “greatest strategic disaster in American history.” That's no small task.

Woodward’s book debut was followed by the tawdry Foley sex-scandal which has folded in quite nicely with the daily death-toll in Iraq which appears to increase in number and gruesomeness with every passing day.

Is this steady onslaught of bad news merely coincidence or is it, perhaps, being organized by members of the ruling elite who are enraged at seeing their trophy-state being reduced to rubble by the amateurs in the White House?

In many respects, the deluge of anti-Bush news is reminiscent of the infamous “Dean scream”; that bizarre incident when candidate Howard Dean’s “whoop of joy” was isolated from the crowd-noise (with a special microphone) and played on national TV over 900 times in 48 hours. The scream made Dean look like a raging madman and torpedoed his slim hopes for winning his party’s nomination.

Is it Bush who is in the crosshairs now?

Again, this is not meant to imply that the media is not solidly in Bush's corner. It is. But it’s also apparent that the division between elites is steadily growing.

Jim Baker’s “Iraq Survey Group” is, perhaps, the best example of the split in the ruling class. Baker is expected to issue his report following the November mid-term elections. Leaks from the report indicate a significant change in policy which will probably resemble Vietnam’s “phased withdrawal”. Baker was never in favor of invading Iraq and he hales from a group of old-order conservatives (Scowcroft, Bush Sr., Larry Eagleburger etc) who (appear) to be looking for a way out. Baker may be their last best chance for a quick exit-strategy, although he has cautiously framed his rhetoric in terms of “It would be a mistake to withdraw immediately.”

Baker’s task is to sell Bush on the idea that “staying the course” is futile and that “peace with honor” is possible if we begin to promptly withdraw American troops. (The language of Vietnam will be hauntingly familiar to many readers)

Baker is a smooth-talking attorney and a skillful diplomat, but there are reasons to be pessimistic about his prospects for success. His vision is not shared by Rumsfeld or Cheney, and that makes all the difference. Both Rummy and Veep believe we can prevail in Iraq and they still have the most influence on Bush. Baker’s backroom maneuverings with his pals at the CFR, AIE, and the other sanctuaries of wealth and privilege, will probably amount to nothing. We’re in Iraq to stay.

Even if the Democrats sweep both houses in November, it is doubtful that the enfeebled congress will have the power to confront the omnipotent “unitary” executive. Bush has all the power now; and what he says, goes.

America is presently in a long, downward spiral. It could be years before we hit rock bottom. Our military is grinding down, our alliances are increasingly frayed and tenuous, and public opinion has begun to wane. The tectonic-plates of political good-fortune have begun to shift. There won’t be any more “good news” coming from Iraq.

Still, in the face of mounting pressure and widespread public unease, Bush has ordered a carrier group to the Gulf; steaming ahead for an apocalyptic confrontation with Iran. When the time is right, he’ll blow the whistle and the bombs will start pelting down like a Texas hailstorm.

It’s a death-wish.

Bush is chugging inexorably towards Tehran and we’re all being swept along in his wake. It’s like one last wild ride on the Titanic before we hit the ice in the open seas and slip slowly beneath the waves.

Glub, glub!

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