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.
I made all that up. Could you tell?
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."
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.
"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.
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.
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
that was before I even had breakfast.
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
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 . . .
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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