Saturday, April 19, 2003

Saddam and the Elvis factor

Here’s a cute story that 6 Congresscritters--Reps. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.; Bart Stupak, D-Mich.; Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; Mike Doyle, D-Pa.; and Sens. John Ensign, R-Nev. and Sam Brownback, R-Kan.--live in Washington in housing subsidized by a secretive religious group. Isn’t that special?

Lacking a DSL line, I usually keep at least 2 windows open while web-surfing and click between them while 1 is loading an article. Sometimes you get odd juxtapositions. A NY Times story on the Daily Show in the arts section quotes a segment from a couple of weeks ago:
When Mr. Stewart asked Mr. Colbert for his take on whether Saddam was dead or alive, the correspondent answered, "One thing is certain: If Saddam is dead, it greatly reduces his ability to control Iraq." But wouldn't his death end his control entirely? asked Mr. Stewart. Not necessarily, argued Mr. Colbert: "When this man appears in public no one is sure it's actually him, and yet he's held an iron grip on power since 1979 — 24 years of brutal dictatorship, all while only maybe existing. The point is we can kill Saddam Hussein but we won't win the war until we kill the idea of Saddam Hussein. So what we need to do is develop bombs that kill ideas."
And over in the Telegraph a story says that with footage of Saddam continually popping up after the US says he’s dead, no one in Iraq will believe he’s dead even if a body is produced--the “Elvis factor,” as it is called.

As worried as I was that American imperialism would be buoyed by a victory in Iraq achieved at a low cost in American lives, and with all those POWs back and happily negotiating movie-of-the-week deals, there is some hope in the attitude of the Iraqis and in the Pentagon’s staggering ability to lose the peace. If the Iraqis ever danced, it was the minute waltz, so quickly did their attitude turn from Hey, thanks for the liberation to Why are you guys still here?, and What have you done for us lately? They’re already asking why they should have to pay for contracts they never signed with American companies that were certainly not the lowest bidders and which never contributed to the election campaign of any Iraqis. I suspect we can also whistle for those four permanent bases the US wants--no Iraqi politician can survive as a perceived American puppet: just look how fast Chalabi’s star waned. This is what happens when your motives are in doubt: even the Iraqis who see this as a liberation believe that for the Americans liberation was only a happy coincidence to their real motives, oil and empire. So they see no reason for gratitude, and they’re right (also, we didn’t ask for gratitude, which they might have been willing to give, we simply imposed Bechtel and Haliburton and Jay Garner and the permanent bases on them). And Iraqi nationalism turned out to be pretty potent.

As for losing the peace, the same power vacuum that allowed all that looting has also allowed in all sorts of Iraqi power-grabbers. Like the Shiite cleric who came from Iran, marched into the government offices in Kut, declared himself the elected governor without bothering with the formality of an election, and the Marines can’t figure out how to get him out. If they ever do figure it out, I hope they tell the rest of us, since we had the same problem in 2000.

The Israeli army assassinated an AP cameraman. This sort of thing has been increasing; they have also been deliberately targeting peace activist “human shields.”

Both the NY Times and the WashPost have stories about Rumsfeld now “standing tall.” Dunno, to me he still looks like Robert MacNamara as a gnome, shorter, wider and squintier.

Some R group I’ve never heard of is attacking R moderates in tv ads digitally inserting French flags.

Here’s a creepy WashPost headline: “Bush to Worship With U.S. Troops in Texas.” Yee ha. Creepier is what Bush said in his radio address: “As a nation, we continue to pray for all who serve in our military and those who remain in harm's way. America mourns those who have been called home, and we pray that their families will find God's comfort and God's grace.” Count me out. Also, the White House Easter Egg roll (how is that different from an Easter egg hunt? [for the purposes of a joke, I will assume no difference])(or from the thing you get in Chinese restaurants?) will be closed to the public, only military families. They are expected to find none of the eggs, but claim that the Easter Bunny smuggled them into Syria.

Oh for fuck’s sake--the US plans to build a pipeline to send Iraqi oil to Israel. That shouldn’t create any sort of backlash at all. Since this isn’t mentioned anywhere else, and the story seems reasonably well sourced, I’ll give the URL.

I haven’t mentioned SARS yet, but shouldn’t China get some sort of spanking for covering up an epidemic for 3 months?

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