I've not yet commented on the Iraq elections. I'm not sure what they mean. Voting day elation could be the beginning of real, meaningful freedom for millions. It could also be a single forgettable day in decades of bloodshed and loss. A day of democratic pretensions at the end of a gun barrel.
Celebrations and silly, exploitive ink-stained Congressional fingers are extraordinarily premature. None of us knows what it means. We can pray, but we can't know.
I have one huge question though.....what about Osama bin Laden? Could this, in part, be a huge ruse to take our eye off the ball again? Bin Laden attacked the US on 9/11....not the people or "insurgents" of Iraq? Where is Osama? Why aren't we talking about him? Have we permanently failed to find him? Why is the President so strangely silent on this topic?
Have we finally all gotten sucked into the Bushian "Iraq as the villain behind the 9/11 attack" fantasy? In truth, are we celebrating the removal of Iraq as evil enemy from Bush's dark, oil-drenched paranoia?
The Iraqi "insurgents" didn't exist when we attacked Iraq. They were created by our attack. We're celebrating defeating forces we created? Forces who were defending Iraq from....us? George Bush may be the most clever politician of our time. We're celebrating the "defeat" of the mess he caused.
Meanwhile, Mark Morford, as always, expresses himself brilliantly on the subject. Mark Morford of the San Francisco Chronicle is, quite simply, one amazingly talented political writer/columnist. You can find his columns here on Wednesdays and Fridays. Enjoy his latest....
"Come See Our Brutal Democracy Freedom rings in Iraq! Bush was right all along! American wins! Or, you know, not" - By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Ah, the violent march of democracy.
Beautiful thing, really, seeing repressed and weary Iraqis vote for the first time, and dance in the bloody bombed-out streets, and avoid the suicide bombers and of course not be able to travel between provinces or drive anywhere in their locked-down nation and by the way watch out for the snipers on the roofs.
It really is amazing, watching the deeply flawed system of democracy take hold in a raw and decimated nation like a thorny weed cracking through shattered concrete. All people deserve to be free and now Iraqis have a tiny bloody taste of it and this is always, always a good thing. I am not kidding.
So, should we be proud? Is Bush's thuggish and illegal pre-emptive attack strategy justified? Are Iraq's first-ever elections a defining moment in American political history? Are we all righteous and good and holy, despite all the dead bodies and the hatred?
Well, sort of. But then again, not really. Should Bush get some credit for all the cheering Iraqis who are now breathing sort of free? Well, no. Not even close.
While it's always heartwarming to see a brutalized and disheartened people flex their newfound freedom for the first time, the costs of this teetering, fragile, force-fed, implode-at-any-moment democracy are nauseating and appalling. You already know the numbers: $300 billion, over 1,400 dead U.S. soldiers and over 10,000 permanently wounded and countless thousands of dead innocent Iraqi civilians -- and many, many more to come.
And let us not forget the biggest disclaimer of all: Not a single one of BushCo's alleged reasons for dragging our fractured and bankrupt nation into one of the most brutal wars since Vietnam has actually proved valid or justifiable. The disgusting array of WMD/nuclear/biotoxin lies and deceptions are not suddenly erased because we set up some polling places.
How quickly we forget: A democratic Iraq was never the reason Bush forced us into this war. Iraq's fledgling democracy is a pleasant side effect, a bonus PR move, a heartstring-tugging and patriotic patina of bogus humanitarianism BushCo is now trying to slather over one of the most disastrous and inept military efforts in recent history. It makes for terrific photo ops. It makes for miserable and debilitating foreign policy.
Look. Democracy is good. Treasonous BushCo dishonesty and misprision and an outright ignorance regarding exit strategies and the true costs of war are not. Republicans and Bush apologists are quick to ignore, in this momentary orgy of political spin and PR, how not a single one of the problems Iraq faced before the elections has been solved. The brutal insurgent violence is only increasing. U.S. soldiers are dying in record numbers. Iraq is a violent mess. And Bush just asked for $80 billion more from the broke U.S. economy to fund the occupation, with no end in sight.
Let's just say it outright: The ends do not justify the means. A barely democratic Iraq is fine and good, but you well know that if Bush had mumbled to the nation three years and $300 billion ago that we were going to start bombing this piss-poor country back to the Stone Age and gut the U.S. economy and put thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis in death's way to deliver it, all while sending the nastiest possible message to the world and actually increasing the threat of terrorism while turning our backs on every major U.S. ally, I doubt many Americans would have giddily waved the flag of support (except maybe Ann Coulter, who apparently loves anything involving guns and dead foreigners).
Let's put it another way: Here is your choice, America: $300 billion and massive international disrespect and a huge pile of dead American soldiers in an effort to force a fragile democracy onto a torn and fractured Iraq by ousting their useless dictator who was, let us repeat, no threat to us, or to anyone, and who was, in fact, our ally, until he dared to threaten our oil.
Or: $300 billion to assist struggling nations and battle AIDS and protect the planet, to evolve our international relationships and set up treaties and unifying alliances and maybe even have a little left over to help fix our own schools, maybe help all those destitute American city upgrade their hospitals and fix their homeless problems and even maybe launch a national health-care plan, spend that money on trying to solve a huge host of social ills plaguing this crumbling beautiful egomaniacal empire we call home.
Which do you choose? What cost democracy? Where do you draw your lines?
Bush does not get credit for Iraq's fleeting glimpse of democracy for the exact same reason you don't give the tsunami credit for cleansing the streets of Indonesia. His motives were never, repeat never, to bring democracy to Iraq. His motives were to oust a pip-squeak dictator who threatened our access to 10 percent of the world's oil. It was about power, and regional control, and ego, and petroleum. Period.
Does this matter anymore? Iraq gets a glimmer of democratic hope and all lies and broken international laws and oily policy shifts are forgiven? Hardly.
Because if this is our new agenda, if we are suddenly the Hammer of Democracy that slams our political system onto every country we feel deserves it and damn the fiscal, emotional, spiritual and human costs, well, let's get to it, already.
Let's right now start preparing for U.S. forces to march into that pesky repressive China. Let us look forward to BushCo declaring war on Iran, and then North Korea, and then huge parts of nondemocratic Africa. Any day now, yes? How about Egypt? And Pakistan? And Jordan? Dictatorships and monarchies and repressive, antidemocratic oligarchies, all. Man, we'll be at war until 2045! Whee!
What about poor, beautiful Nepal, where the king just shut down the government and closed all the airports and severed communication with the rest of the world, and over 10,000 people have died in rebel fighting and the military is patrolling the streets and citizens are terrified and repressed and democracy is dying on the vine? Shouldn't we be marching in there next week, Georgie? Saddle up, cowpokes!
Oh wait. Won't happen. Reason: Not convenient. Not strategically lucrative. No oil reserves. No real power gain, except for maybe Iran, which is why BushCo is already busy working with Israel to map out bombing strategies.
In fact, to prove we don't really give a crap for the lovely "march of democracy" Republicans so love to gloat over, let's note right here how the U.S. regularly gives billions in aid to those very same repressive, dictator-friendly burgs of Egypt and Jordan and Pakistan. Ah, flagrant hypocrisy, thy name is Bush.
Look. Does America have a responsibility to the world to promote peace and democratic ideals in the world whenever possible? Hell yes. Does the world's richest and most gluttonous superpower have an obligation to intervene when absolutely necessary and help repressed peoples taste freedom and emerge from the shadow of evil dictators? You're damn right.
But not this way. Not at this cost. Not via a staggering and soul-mauling string of lies and abuse of power and a brutish foreign policies that only alienate and aggravate and inflame. Not through torture tactics and economic plundering and fear stratagems designed to keep the exhausted American populace from asking too many questions about this administration's real motives.
And not by way of a thuggish pre-emptive attack-first policy that goes against everything America has stood for (i.e., defense, containment, peace) for the past 100 years.
Meanwhile, in related news, an international team of scientists and researchers announced that the world has roughly 10 years before the effects of global warming become permanent and irreversible. Before the Gulf Stream is permanently weakened and massive ice shelves melt and the world is plunged more deeply in danger than we could ever imagine.
You really want to protect democracy, Dubya? Ensure its survival? You really want to have a lasting legacy, one not tainted with blood and war and humiliating claims of "mission accomplished?" Here's a tiny reminder: that $80 bil you just asked for to kill more Iraqis is 17 times higher than the EPA's entire budget. Maybe, just maybe, something is just a little off in our nation's priorities?
Just, you know, a thought. Go democracy!