Home With the Armadillos

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I
knew a man, George W, and he'd dance for you… the old soft shoe…

The
president's clarifying address had to be heard, not to be believed.
There is no new policy there, just an assembly of tired themes,
slogans, and idle speculations about the future of Iraq. Other
commentators better placed than I have already said this, including
today the ever-entertaining Zbiggy
Brzezinski
.

Accordingly,
it is time to focus in on such things as the standard-issue
critics may have overlooked.

Stuck
Inside of Baghdad With the Saigon Blues Again

W
got off to a running start by contrasting the assassinated Izzadine
Saleem with the ephemeral terrorist Zarqawi, who may or may
not really exist. He called up dire consequences of not staying
the course. So far, so good.

US
forces in Iraq, said Bush, have shown "perseverance, sacrifice,
and an ability to adapt." Unluckily, the "swift removal
of Saddam Hussein's regime had an unintended effect"
— viz., partisan warfare (my italics). With so many well-trained
Neo-Cons on hand to craft Bush's speeches, there is little wonder
that "unintended consequences" — carefully couched
— should be noted. This does not mean that the administration
has taken to reading F. A. Hayek.

Even
so, US forces will persist in the cause of bringing Progress
to Iraq. "Applause" here.

People
"prefer lives of freedom to lives of fear," says Bush,
and who could question it? "Our enemies in Iraq are good
at filling hospitals, but they don't build any." Well on
the facts, the US forces have been good at filling them, too,
and building new ones is probably small comfort to 10,000 dead
civilians. This line simply repeats the widely held American
superstition that sending in a monstrous regiment of social
workers makes up for any "unintended consequences"
attendant on invading a country that never attacked the United
States.

We
shall bring into being "a free, representative government"
for Iraq. "The sooner this goal is achieved, the sooner
our job will be done." I suppose that means we'll be abandoning
the four, six, fourteen (one loses count) US bases that are
being built in Iraq. Right.

Anyhow,
we shall be handing "full sovereignty" to "a
government of Iraqi citizens" — five or six of them, one
guesses, and thereafter "[o]ur embassy in Iraq will have
the same purpose as any other American embassy" (my
italics). Oops! This is probably true, and any country, anywhere,
with an American embassy in it, ought to watch out.

"In
addition to a president, two vice presidents, and a prime minister,
26 Iraqi ministers will oversee government departments from
health to justice to defense." I was wrong, it isn't just
five or six Iraqis who will bear the full sovereignty. It's
thirty. If these jobs prove hard to fill, I suggest sending
Messrs. Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Ledeen, Perle, and 26 33rd-degree
Straussians to stand in, until elections are held

If
the election is close, Justice Scalia can cast the deciding
vote.

Mr.
Lakhdar Brahimi is doing something useful, whatever it is. Progress
is afoot. Blue skies smiling at George. There'll be no compromisin'
on the road to his horizon. Not at all.

Twelve
ministries are already in Iraqi hands. Further, the "ministry
of education… is out of the propaganda business," which
means the Iraqis are ahead of us on that front.

Leaving
the Yankee obsession with formal schooling to one side, we now
find Bush sketching out a future in which Iraqis, as full allies,
work with US forces against sundry evildoers. Indeed, the US
"will maintain our troop level at the current 138,000 as
long as necessary." Of course – enough loco weed having
been inhaled – any Iraqi should feel "sovereign" with
138,000 foreign troops quartered on the land, all the more so,
when Bush says that if US commanders "need more troops,
I will send them."

This
is the republican "I," in contrast to the royal "we."
FDR used the republican "I" a lot. Thanks, George.
Send a note to Congress, while you're at it.

Bush
thanks the troops for their sacrifice. "Applause."
No comment.

Bush
now alludes to recent events in Fallujah. By executive alchemy,
he turns what must seem a numbing defeat – from a Neo-Con perspective
— into a victory for prudence and good sense: US troops will
keep order without alienating the inhabitants. Well, you have
to start somewhere.

Bush
mentions a number of cities, whose names we haven't needed to
know since we studied the Mitanni and Kassite kingdoms of the
ancient world. And now I see the deep cunning of the Neo-Con
cabal. This whole bloody, expensive, not to say crazed exercise,
was actually undertaken to teach Americans geography!

Anyway,
no Neo-Con was harmed in the making of this film… and thank
Satan for that.

Bush
reports more Progress. We are building a reliable Iraqi army.
I suppose this will be a great success, a sort of Somocista
Guardia Nacional on a Middle Eastern scale.

After
the timely arrival of sovereignty, US troops – under the UN
fig leaf (with any luck) – will remain to help out. I suppose
the US has so much spare sovereignty to hand out because Uncle
Samuel long since leeched out the residual sovereignty of the
fifty commonwealths that make up our glorious and involuntary
union — the highest peak of human achievement. Meanwhile, in
Iraq, the economy's up and "privatization" is underway,
at least in the sense that US operatives understand the notion.

Just
as every essay in political science used to end with "more
research is necessary," Bush states that "there is
still much work to do" in Iraq.

Lots
and lots of "reconstruction" is under way, because,
mysteriously, "Iraq's infrastructure was allowed to crumble"
— but wait, it was because "money was diverted to palaces
and to war and to weapons programs." Not like us, you see.
Uncle Samuel has no palaces, no wars, and no weapons programs.
He is a strict and frugal New England bachelor with no vices,
even if some of his underlings in the field – widely derided
as "recycled hillbillies" – have been improving themselves
through on-the-job training in "Third Country" interrogation
methods.

There
wouldn't be quite so much "reconstruction" to do,
of course, without Gulf War I, a decade and more of "sanctions,"
"Shock and Awe" (March 2003), etc., but mistakes are
made and that's why the English language has impersonal constructions.
"Shiite happens." Besides, Yankees like Bush just
love to say that word, "Reconstruction," and we
mustn't begrudge them life's little pleasures.

Anyway,
in the new Iraq, the IMF will spend like a drunken sailor. And
don't you wonder precisely which American companies will get
the loot? To oversee the disbursements, "our new embassy
in Iraq will have regional offices in several key cities."
A cynic would think this is just more command and control.

Turning
up the Bunsen burner of social engineering, Bush announces that
the New Iraq "will also need a humane, well-supervised
prison system." Whoa. Just like Texas. Or California. Or
Illinois.

With
the kinder, gentler prison in place, Abu Gulag will be destroyed
– "with the approval of the Iraqi government"
— a happy ending which puts some of us in mind of the erasure
of the ashes of Mt. Carmel. Fewer reminders that way, I guess,
and maybe less evidence.

And
now we shall enlist the UN. It's good enough to clean up the
mess. NATO is helping out, too, if you don't count trivial states
such as Germany and France.

Anyway,
there will be an election. A "transitional national assembly
will also draft a new constitution," to be approved by
referendum in "the fall of 2005." I wonder if they'll
be allowed to vote NO?

I
suspect this is a one-time-only Jaffaite "social contract."
Vote once in 2005 — or in 1788, for that matter — and your fate
is sealed forevermore. Your goose is cooked, and more sauce
for the gander.

Bush
adduces September 11th, a date which will live in
repetition, and notes the educational progress of the American
people: "Americans have… learned new terms like orange
alert and ricin and dirty bomb." Damn! What a round-about
way of overcoming Americans' educational deficiencies.

I
suppose if we don't know where Stockholm is or what nuclear
fission is, the shortest path to teaching us those things would
be to nuke Sweden. Really, old chap, it would be better for
us to remain ignorant but productive. But evildoers, illwishers,
and "terraces" are about, and we must press on.

"We
must do our duty…. History is moving and it will tend toward
hope or tend toward tragedy." Whoa, again. Is this Spengler,
JFK, Fukuyama, Kojève, or Wyndham-Lewis? And notice
the juxtaposition of "hope" and "tragedy"
— a combination surely meant to wind up anyone who ever read
Bill Clinton's history professor Carroll Quigley.

Who
says these Neo-Clown speechwrights don't have a sense of humor?

Now
Bush characterizes our implacable and united Enemies. This is
all theatre of the absurd, because the enemies on display —
if they would even be "enemies" if the US weren't
mucking around on their land — are many times less monolithic
than the non-monolithic communists were. But we must go on.

The
enemies "have a vision that guides and explains all their
varied acts of murder." Further, they "seek the total
control of every person in mind and soul…. They seek bases of
operation to train more killers and export more violence…. They
seek weapons of mass destruction…."

I
have left out a propagandistic bit about women's rights, since
that has lately become a prime excuse for US intervention. Absent
that, Bush has come close to describing his own foreign policy.
There is a vision. He has bases in over a hundred countries.
He doesn't seek weapons of mass destruction because he already
has more than any other Potentate in the world.

His
advisors would like a few more, however.

Now
comes more ideological fakery: "We believe that freedom
can advance and change lives in the Greater Middle East as it
has advanced and changed lives in Asia, in Latin America, in
Eastern Europe and Africa." Well, yes, W. What the Hell
does that have to do with US foreign policy?

"Two
visions" are now offered. One is "of tyranny and murder,"
the other "of liberty and life." Where two visions
are on offer, and only two visions, you may be fairly
sure that a swindle is under way. Rome or Parthia! Sparta or
Athens! Smith or Jones!

In
our times, any passable swindle will be rooted in Cold War liberalism,
Straussianism, or related doctrines.

Desperado,
Why Don't You Come to Your Senses?

One
begins to doubt the president's Tejanidad. By this time
in a comparable play, LBJ had taken himself out of the presidential
race. But LBJ didn't talk to God quite so much, or vice versa.

LBJ
was crude, crass, and loved power. He believed in the Cold War
and embraced the quagmire he inherited from the overrated JFK.
But LBJ was human enough, in the end, to quit — for the good
of his party, his country, or for reasons unknown. Maybe he
got tired of hearing fabricated numbers from Whiz Kids like
Robert McNamara, the Rumsfeld of that era.

The
utopian crusade in Iraq is on the skids. Many Neo-Cons have
settled down, and they seem to be more into laid-back songs.
Even Niall Ferguson, the youngish Colonel Blimp of the historical
world, has resigned his commission as privy councillor to the
Yanks, and is scurrying for cover. He will be sent down and
reduced in rank to Leftenant Blimp.

An
impressive number of American warmongers, embarrassed but unrepentant,
are also putting on their life jackets.

So
what is Bush – all alone at the end of the evening – to do?
Should he keep invading Iraq because it's a family tradition?
Should he save the last dance for Blair?

Should
he take it easy, and not let the sound of his own wheels make
him crazy? Should he check into the Hotel California or rock
the Casbah?

It's
hard to say, but there are miles and miles of Texas, and all
the stars up in the sky. It worked for LBJ.

Home
with the armadillos.

May
27, 2004


Joseph R. Stromberg [send him
mail
] is holder of the JoAnn B. Rothbard Chair in History at
the Ludwig von Mises Institute
and a columnist for LewRockwell.com
and Antiwar.com. With David
Gordon
, he is writing an intellectual biography of Murray N.
Rothbard. See his War,
Peace, and the State
.

Joseph
Stromberg Archives

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