A Last Wild Ride on the Titanic
By Mike Whitney
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
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
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
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
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.
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