Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, June 28, 2004  

sovereignty (n):

1. Complete independence and self-government. (American Heritage)

2. Freedom from external control; especially: an autonomous state (Merriam-Webster)

3. Government free from external control (Princeton)

President Bush always wanted Iraq to be his signature accomplishment. Now, having "transferred sovereignty" two days early, he has solidified Iraq's status as his administration's defining achievement. For an administration founded on bizarro reality, where echo-chamber hopes become tenets of faith and then ultimately replace objective truth, today's pantomime was a perfect metaphor of self-delusion.

Let us gaze back for a moment on the entire spectacle, beginning with the belief that Iraq was a threat. The Bushies spoke of nukes ("we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud"), connections to al Qaeda, confidence that Iraq was poised with weapons systems capable of striking the US. Colin Powell produced maps that showed the WMD installations; he held up a vial of powder--a facsimile of the anthrax being produced at those very locations.

Whipped into a bizarro panic, the US pushed on to war. Fortunately, the Iraqis were preparing to welcome us with flowers and parades, so we would need only a lean attack machine to take and hold Iraq. With embeds breathlessly voicing the military heroics, we watched TV screens festooned with graphics and logos and saw a joyful throng tear down a statue of Saddam. Victory, Bush told us on May 1, had been accomplished. For this final display, Bush donned priestly vestments and rode in the ceremonial fighter jet to solemnize the ritual.

In the post-invasion "reconstruction," there were many other victories. When difficulties arose with infrastructure, the US corrected them quickly and effectively. When riots and looting threatened the stability of the nascent democracy, the US brought calm and safety. When violence erupted in places like Falluja, the US acted quickly to resolve them. Through our management of the "transition," we demonstrated how real democracies conduct themselves, always highlighting justice and respect, as when we turned the torture chambers of Iraq into the cells of democratic prisons.

Could the farce that played out this morning be any greater ritual of perception over reality? The administration, fearing the potentially cataclysmic riots and organized terror set to erupt in 48 hours, pulled an early exit. Like a parson at a wedding, Bush sanctified the fiction: "After decades of brutal rule by a terror regime, the Iraqi people have their country back. [This] begins a new phase in Iraq's progress toward full democracy." The country is in a shambles with no prospects or plans for how to move forward. Yet for the administration, it is a triumph of freedom.

Why we invaded, what we hoped to accomplish, how this protects America or addresses the threat of terror--these questions are left behind. Instead, with those brief platitudes, the President has accomplished what he always intended--the most elaborate, expensive, and bloody election ad ever staged.

posted by Jeff | 7:41 AM |
Blogroll and Links