Today's phrase is: "Political Progress." This sinuous and supple little passage has greased many a clumsy reality over the transom of public discourse, allowing both purveyors and consumers of conventional wisdom to ignore the incontinent, pustulous, blood-smeared elephant of aggressive war standing there stinking up the well-appointed drawing rooms of the American Establishment.
You may recall -- although it would of course be more patriotic of you not to recall anything that came before today's party line -- that "political progress" in Iraq once meant the carrying out of some semblance of free elections among those political factions allowed by the liberators to exercise their freedom. This was duly done a few years ago -- or rather, it was forced upon the occupying liberators by the reactionary Shiite mullah, Ayatollah Sistani. This purple-fingered election, we were told, represented "political progress."
But then the occupying liberators decided that they really didn't like the outcome of this completely free and unfettered election. So they deposed the prime minister chosen by the winning political bloc and put someone else in his place. This cumbersome colonial machination, we were told, now represented "political progress." We were cooking with gas now. Things would really start looking up now.
However, the conquered land continued to slide deeper and deeper into the quagmire of violence, brutality, corruption and murder that is the inevitable product of the "supreme international crime" of aggressive war. Not to worry, though; the new government and the occupying liberators then proceeded to divvy up state ministries between various armed and vicious sectarian militias, and spent billions training and arming security forces that were immediately riddled by the sectarian militias. The resulting outbreak of mass sectarian murder and the destruction of the very fabric of Iraq's multi-ethnic society, we were told, now represented "political progress," to wit: "As the Iraqi security forces [the militia-riddled instruments of terror and murder] stand up, we will stand down."
This definition of "political progress" had a pretty long run -- until the levels of horror and terror in Iraq reached such a pitch of intensity that even the purveyors and consumers of conventional wisdom back in the Homeland began to notice that something wasn't quite right. It was at this point that the notion of "benchmarks" took hold in the CW world, and became embedded in the slightly differing plans for "political progress" offered by the Baker Group of bejowled worthies, and the "surge" fanatics in the White House, and the Democratic "opposition." In one of those quirky coincidences in which history abounds, there was one key benchmark that all three of these Establishment factions agreed upon: the passage of an "oil law" granting foreign companies feasting rights to Iraq's staggeringly rich energy resources. And so the approval of part of this commonly held benchmark oil law by the Iraqi Council of Ministers earlier this year, we were told, now represented "political progress."
But alack the day, the Iraqi parliament has decided to knock off for a couple of months this summer, taking a long, Bush-like hiatus that will almost certainly leave the oil law in limbo. And even if the completely sovereign and absolutely free Iraqi legislators freely decide to respond to American "concerns" and cancel their vacation, there is little hope that the impasse over the oil law will be resolved any time soon -- espeically given the fact that the law is rejected by vast swathes of the Iraqi people. (Not that the Bush Faction has ever been concerned with the consent of the governed, of course.) So where does that leave us for "political progress" now?
Thankfully, the New York Times is on the case. In a prominent story there today, we learn that "political progress" in Iraq now consists of one of the major parties in the government deciding not to quit. Yet. Yes, the simmering threat by the main Sunni block led by Iraqi VP Tariq al-Hashimi to walk out of the government to prevent the incipient division of the country into sectarian enclaves (a move mightily assisted by the occupying liberators' new scheme of walling off Baghdadis into ethnic ghettos), has apparently been "eased" by a meeting between al-Hashimi and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Times assured us. This cozy confab "helped move the political process" forward and, as the Times' headline tells us, now represents "political progress" in Iraq.
So there you are. We have American casualties swelling with the still-rising wave of the Bush-McCain-Romney-Guiliani-Lieberman surge, with even more deaths expected as the escalation crests. We have American soldiers flung into the brutal service of the Bush Regime's criminal enterprise becoming more brutalized and criminalized themselves -- with thousands of troops admitting that they have beaten or despoiled innocent civilians, and tens of thousands embracing the torture of prisoners and rejecting the very notion that the people they have come to "liberate" should be treated with dignity and respect, according to the Pentagon's own examination of the fraying mental health of its forces. We have Iraqi citizens cowering in fear of the American-trained "security" forces of their own government. We have the ghetto-building campaign by the occupying liberators sealing whole quadrants of Baghdad into open-air prisons whose inhabitants are left to the tender mercies of the violent sectarians locked in with them, creating "mini-Islamic republics," as one Iraqi government official admitted to The Independent. We have literally millions of Iraqis fleeing their homes, eating the bitter bread of exile in foreign lands or else on the run from ethnic cleansing inside Iraq -- one of the greatest population displacements since World War II. We have a never-ending hellstorm of death and chaos, lies and looting, incompetence and arrogance -- and unfathomable, unendurable human suffering -- all of it spawned by the illegal, immoral and unnecessary war of aggression launched at the order of George W. Bush, and championed or countenanced for years by the "great and the good" of American society.
But the fact that one of the political factions licensed by the conquerors has decided not to leave the government for the time being means that "political progress" is being made in Iraq. So says the supreme arbiter of conventional wisdom in the American press.