Originally published in the June 20, 2003 edition of The Moscow Times.
They were digging mass graves in Iraq last week.
No, not the mass graves that George W. Bush now reflexively invokes to justify his murder of up to 10,000 innocent Iraqi civilians and the needless deaths of more than 200 American soldiers in the aggressive war he launched on the basis of proven lies and outright fabrications. Those mass graves, containing victims of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, were dug years ago, back when powerful American officials like Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Paul Wolfowitz were pursuing "closer ties" to the Saddam regime at the signed, insistent order of another president named George Bush.
They were also being dug all over Iraq when Donald Rumsfeld was eagerly pressing Saddamite flesh as Ronald Reagan's special envoy, restoring diplomatic ties with the CIA-supported killer. Oh, to have been a fly on that wall as Rumsfeld squinted tenderly into Saddam's beady eyes and pledged to lavish the burly beloved with American money to build his war machine, American technology to fuel his internal repression, American honor to secure him credit and diplomatic backing abroad, and American military intelligence for his poison gassing of Iranian troops and missile attacks on Iranian civilians. How many thousands of innocent lives were sacrificed in that moment of explosive power-guy passion! It must have been one steamy love scene, a real bodice-ripper.
We're now told that those mass graves are bad mass graves, although they were perfectly acceptable at the time. (Then again, fashions do change, don't they? Remember when presidential deceit was an impeachable offense? When military aggression was a war crime? Ah, those silly fads of yesteryear.) But the new mass graves being dug in Iraq today – for the innocent collaterals killed during the American military sweeps last week – are good mass graves, you see, because the aged farmers, retarded teenagers, young fathers and fleeing women now being shoveled into fetid desert pits were killed by the bombs and bullets of liberation!
Yes, we know that Bush's viceroy in Iraq, the preppy-monikered L. Paul Bremer III, has recently forbidden the liberated Iraqi people from using their liberty to verbally oppose the occupation of their land by a foreign power. He then arbitrarily canceled elections in Najaf which would have been the first free local vote in Iraq for decades – not restricted to a list of "acceptable" candidates chosen by the occupiers, as in "elections" elsewhere around the country, but a ballot open to all parties. Not only did Bremer quash the vote, he sent American troops to "storm the offices of an obscure local party" and arrest the nascent democrats for – you guessed it – opposing the occupation of their land by a foreign power, the New York Times reports.
Now, canceling elections and stifling dissent by force of arms might seem a counterintuitive expression of political freedom, but it chimes perfectly with the Bush Regime's masterful use of Zen paradox in statecraft. After all, this is the same crew that introduced the American people to such mind-bending concepts as "loser-take-all democracy," "charity for the rich," and "prosperity through bankruptcy." Do the noble Iraqis deserve any less?
Besides, "liberation without liberty" reflects the Dear Leader's own unique philosophy of governance, expressed so eloquently before his judicially-assisted apotheosis in 2000 when, piqued by a satirical website that dared to cast aspersions upon his looming greatness, he cried, "There ought to be limits to freedom!" In this, at least, he is a man of his word.
And yes, it's true that Bushist Party bosses in Baghdad have announced plans to start "privatizing" the county's assets – which, as you doubtless recall, are being "held in trust for the Iraqi people" – before said Iraqi people can form a government and make their own decisions about it, AFP reports. But is that so wrong?
"Privatization is the right direction for 21st century Iraq," declared Tim Carney, the Bush satrap "advising" the Iraqi ministry of metals and minerals. Indeed, hath not the Leader himself proclaimed, in the official National Security Policy of the United States, that unbridled crony capitalism is "the single sustainable model of national success?" Since there is no real choice, why bother to let the locals decide?
[Memo to the Leader: a possible strategy for 2004?]
And so the villagers of Al Hir, where an entire family was raked to death by machine-gun fire while they cowered in their wheatfield – a "mistake," the Pentagon said – joined hundreds of other survivors in burying their collateral dead last week, the New York Times reports. Some of the corpses were ravaged beyond recognition; others were charred "like burned meat," Knight-Ridder reports. How many civilians were killed – sorry, liberated from this mortal coil – during the full-bore assault? A Pentagon spokesman put it all in the proper perspective: such trifles, he said, are "just not significant information."
Equally insignificant, apparently, are the American soldiers who keep dying, week after week, in a war whose triumphant "end" was announced nearly two months ago by the Dear Leader during his million-dollar photo-op on an aircraft carrier. This week, stung by mounting evidence – including pre-war reports from the Pentagon's own intelligence service – that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the war and thus no casus belli, Bush struck back. The president, whose family fortune was built in part on profits from the Nazi war machine, denounced his critics as "historical revisionists," Reuters reports. Wisely ignoring the WMD issue altogether, Bush offered up his last remaining line of defense: "This is for certain: Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat to the United States."
Oh, really? Who then is killing Americans by the dozens in Iraq? The Dear Leader's own spokesmen tell us it is Bathist "die-hards," who are likely being paid if not directly supervised by the still-alive, still-free dictator himself. Saddam, it seems, enjoys considerably more liberty than the liberated Iraqi people. And he is a much greater threat to Americans now – as a free agent, with nothing to lose, operating in secret – than he ever was as the struggling head of a crippled country crawling with UN inspectors, Kurdish armies and Allied warplanes controlling his skies. From 1991 to 2003, not a single American death can be tied to Saddam Hussein; but in the seven weeks since Bush declared "mission accomplished," his partisans have killed more than 40 Americans.
But for Bush, the loss of a little cannon fodder here and there obviously represents "no threat" to real Americans: you know, the pious hypocrites who profit from lies and murder, the well-guarded cowards who gorge themselves on the "burned meat" in Iraq's mass graves – past, present and future.