Thursday, March 20, 2008

"Success": Paving the Way for a John McCain Presidency and Continued Occupation of Iraq

Above, President Bush poses with U.S. Army Specialist Rick Yarosh
at the Brooke Army Medical Center last Veterans Day.

There is no "success" in war, no "winning".


On ABC's March 19th "Good Morning America" show, Martha Radditz interviewed Dick Cheney during his visit to Oman. The subject turned to Iraq:

CHENEY: On the security front I think there's a general consensus that we've made major progress, that the surge has worked. That's been a major success.

RADDITZ: Two-thirds of Americans say it's not worth fighting...

CHENEY: So? (Said with a devilish smile that replaced his usual "smirk".)

RADDITZ: do not care what the American people think?

CHENEY: No, I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls. There has in fact been fundamental change and transformation and improvement for the better. That's a huge accomplishment.


From what I've seen the past few years, this particular poll has not fluctuated much. Rather, it has moved steadily in one direction: increasingly, Americans are opposed to the war and occupation in Iraq.

With a concentrated and emboldened campaign to sell the "success" in Iraq, the Bush Administration is working to defuse one of two overwhelming concerns for Americans. If they "succeed" in convincing America that Iraq is on the path to normalcy, they can focus on the economy, an area where monetary policy, international lending and, yes, stimulus rebates can be brought to bear, yielding apparent (if momentary) relief. This is part of the strategy for holding The White House.


How many ways can you say "success"?

By now, Americans have grown accustomed to Bush Administration public relations blitzkriegs, hitting all major news channels with a concerted message and uniform talking points mouthed by a predictable cast of characters. So, in discussions of Iraq this week, the term "success" was on "everyone's" lips, whether the speaker was George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, General Petraeus or John McCain (who made a quick trip to Baghdad so that he could be more convincing in his assertion.) Of course, this rosy analysis is almost entirely derived from the Administration, Republican politicians, the U.S. Military or from reporters embedded with the military in Iraq.

Unsurprisingly, their view is not necessarily shared by other, "less aligned" agencies. For example:
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross: the "humanitarian situation in Iraq is among the most critical in the world."
  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates over 4.5 million Iraqis have been forced from their homes.
  • Amnesty International: "Five years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, the country is still in disarray. The human rights situation is disastrous, a climate of impunity has prevailed, the economy is in tatters and the refugee crisis continues to escalate."
And, without noting specific citations here, there are the dozen or so reports I've read and heard this week from foreign media reporters, independent observers and bloggers on the ground in Iraq, Iraqi refugees in Syria, analysts, diplomats, etc. (See Dahr Jamail's analysis "Iraq: Five years, and counting.")

The picture is not as neat and clean as the Administration paints it (and began painting it five years ago.)

But as Dick Cheney so resolutely put it, "you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls" (nor, apparently, by the American people, by a few million refugees, by the international community, nor even by the citizens of the nation you are occupying.)

Has there ever been an American Administration that has displayed such open contempt for the will of its own people, and for humanity?

(Note about the above photo: the look on Bush's face betrays an inner conflict. For him, this must have been a profound experience. Compare the left and right halves of his face - cover one side, then the other.)

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