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Shambles Admin hopes for Iraq getting thinner and thinner
by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
Zepp's Commentaries
June 30, 2004

Boy, am I tired! I just got back from the wild celebrations they were having downtown over the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq that mirrored the celebrations in Washington and Baghdad. Everyone's delirious with joy, as you might imagine. When I begged off and left, a bunch of the local Republicans and Democrats were snaking around the town square, doing a kind of a Conga dance. It's pretty obviously a huge triumph for America, Iraq, and the President.

OK. I made all that up. Could you tell?

The two-day advance on the transfer of sovereignty was a dead giveaway of the fact that the US had totally lost control of the situation, and didn't even want to risk concluding phase I of the Iraq occupation with a little ceremony for fear that the resistance would pull something off that would really show what a fiasco the whole thing had become. Jon Stewart, as usual, summed it up nicely when he referred to the transfer as "a sneak retreat."

Watching Bremer board the cargo plane and book out of Baghdad before someone noticed him and blew his brains out reminded me of both Nixon's final departure from the White House (right down to the same little crippled wave from the hatch of the aircraft) to the general tone one perceived while the helicopter was lifting up from the roof of the US embassy in what was then Saigon.

The "exchange of sovereignty" is a complete farce, of course. Even right wingers, while insisting that it is not either a farce, are simultaneously giving excuses why it isn't going to work out, including, of course, the accusation that "libruls" who call it a farce are undermining its credibility. Apparently two out of three Americans are liberal these days; a full 68% of those polled think the transfer of power is a farce meant to figleaf an American defeat.

But the new government cannot make long-term policy decisions without US consent, and 160,000 foreign troops will remain in Iraq, to "restore order." As a transfer of sovereignty, it sounds pretty farcical to me.

Well, OK, I gotta confess. My vast readership in Iraq was poised, waiting to hear from me if they should invest energy and effort into the fledgling new Iraqi state. And with an apathetic shrug and an indifferent sneer, I just managed to destroy the whole thing.

And that was before I even had breakfast.

Usenet right wingers can always be counted on for comic relief. Back in May of 2003, when it became clear that the mission was NOT accomplished, and Iraqis were quite willing to respond to Putsch's taunt to "bring it on," right wingers started talking about how there were pockets of resistance in Germany in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Berlin to the Russians. I had a feeling that this particular resistance was going to be more like that of occupied France than that of defeated Germany, and got accused of undermining America's efforts to bring peace to Iraq by pointing that out.

So yesterday, I noted that three Marines got killed by a roadside bomb, suggesting that Iraqis weren't particularly impressed with having their sovereignty back, and right wingers responded by comparing it to . . .

That's right. "Pockets of resistance in Germany immediately after the war." One thing that Putsch has going for him: when you cultivate abject fools to offer unswerving loyalty, you can really get away with a lot.

On a slightly more elevated plane, Nicholas D. Kristof, NY Times pundit, whined that the left was undermining everything by criticizing Putsch. Kristof claimed that the left called Putsch a liar all the time (which is true; we do. With good reason.) and as an example, cited such books as "Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them" (which was actually referring to Bill O'Reilly and Faux News, and a movie called "Farenheit [sic] 9/11". Kristof is apparently one of those journalists who doesn't need to actually talk to people and read stuff to know what others are thinking. Certainly he feels no need to find out what his examples are, or even how to spell the titles correctly.

For all of that, the number of True Believers seems to be shrinking. A recent CBS / NY Times poll asked if people believed Putsch's reasons for going to war with Iraq. Only 18% did. A full 80% thought he was either lying or "hiding something." That poll was finished the day before Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" was released, no less. More than half of those polled admit that the war wasn't justified, a difficult admission for people who had been cheering the deaths of Iraqis for the past 15 months. Putsch's approval rating is now 42%, the lowest seen since Reagan at the height of Iran/Contra.

If the furtive and hurried transfer of power didn't convince people that it was pretty meaningless (the US is building at least a dozen bases in Iraq, about the only construction going on there, which suggests that "sovereignty" doesn't mean occupation by US troops will end any time soon) then the announcement that 5,600 retired and discharged soldiers would be involuntarily recalled to active duty for possible service in Iraq or Afghanistan had to be pretty much a dead giveaway.

Depending on how you figure it, the US spends between $350 billion (the DoD budget alone) and $750 billion (DoE, plus other military programs stashed in other unlikely parts of the budget such as Agriculture, plus a guess at the blackbox spending, which is secret) on its military. We have 12,000 troops occupying the pile of rubble known as Afghanistan (in reality, America controls about half of Kabul and somewhat less of Kandahar), and another 125,000 as target practice in the Independent (no, really!) Republic (honesttagawd!) Of Iraq. Since there are no troops available to cycle out the guys who have been there, many since April of last year, they're calling up people who thought their military duty was effectively over.

Just where is that money going, if we can't control a third world nation and help police an independent republic with a friendly government? (Herr Doktor Mengele, aka Ayad Allawi, is our friend and model of American freedom these days). America outspends nearly all the rest of the world combined, and is stretched to the limit controlling small portions of Afghanistan and not controlling Iraq at all? If America has a counter revolution this fall and gets an accountable government restored, it might be nice to investigate to see what all that money has been wasted on. Besides Dick Cheney and Halliburton, which we already know about.

In the meantime, "transfer of sovereignty" is the latest goofy gamble of an administration that has taken us all on a long losing streak.

Posted: July 1, 2004


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