Catastrophe by the Numbers

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Two telling stories came over the transom this week — seemingly unrelated, except tangentially, as both deal with different aspects of the fiasco in Iraq. Yet together they provide an illuminating glimpse — like a discarded corpse revealed by a lightning flash — of the moral horror that George W. Bush and his sycophants have wrought both in Iraq and the United States.

First, from the Catholic News Service: "Half of All Christians Have Fled Iraq Since 2003, Says Baghdad Bishop." Excerpt:

Chaldean Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Andreos Abouna of Baghdad said that before the invasion there were about 1.2 million Christians in the predominantly Shiite Muslim state. Since then the overall number has dropped to about 600,000, he said. "What we are hearing now is the alarm bell for Christianity in Iraq," the bishop said. "When so many are leaving from a small community like ours, you know that it is dangerous — dangerous for the future of the church in Iraq."

…About 97 percent of the country’s total 27 million Iraqis are Shiite and Sunni Muslims; Christians make up the majority of the remaining 3 percent. The Chaldean Catholics speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

….Many people were unnerved by the lack of security and confidence in the political process that was supposed to usher in a new era of peace, democracy and rule of law following the removal of President Saddam Hussein by coalition forces, Bishop Abouna said.

……Bishop Abouna said he thought it was unlikely that many of those who had emigrated would return.

The destruction of Iraq’s Christian community — one of the oldest in the world — is no mean feat. The religion took root in the land in the first generation after the Romans executed the troublesome of Nazareth, and has flourished there for almost 2,000 years. Now it is being wiped out before our eyes. Half gone already, it will certainly disappear altogether in the next few years, as civil war consumes the nation, and sects devoted to the most fanatic and retrograde distortions of Islam — empowered beyond measure by the Bush Faction’s war of aggression — impose their draconian rule. Surely the oh-so-Christian Coalition of Bush and Blair will record this with their many high and worthy deeds.

As the story notes, Iraq’s Christians still speak the language that Jesus spoke, a fragment of which is preserved in the English Bible that we’re told Bush reads every day — the cry from the cross: "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? It’s a lament of utter existential despair that is no doubt echoed every day by his followers in the "liberated" land.

But of course Bush doesn’t speak the language of Jesus, literally or metaphorically. (With the possible exception of the world-devouring Pantocrator portrayed in the Book of Revelation, a work of genocidal frenzy well-described by Martin Luther: "Christ is neither taught nor known in it." Naturally, this Grand Guignol is a great favorite among the sects devoted to the most fanatic and retrograde distortions of Christianity — i.e., Bush’s loyal "base.") No, the itinerant preacher who denounced the rich and served the poor is incomprehensible to the Crawford Caligula. Bush speaks only the language of Caesar: brute force, adorned with preening, self-serving lies.

This imperial mendacity undergirds the second story in our lightning flash. This is an AP report — an excellent piece of work by Charles Hanley — on the alarming poll showing that fully 50 percent of all Americans now believe that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction at the time of the Bush invasion. This number represents a hefty increase in credulity from the 36 percent of Ostrich-Americans who held this same false belief just last year.

As Hanley notes, one major factor in this higher heaping of horseshit was the codswallop disgorged last month by a pair of greasy pols: the swiftly sinking, sex-obsessed, K Street corruptocract Sen. Rick "Saneless" Santorum and his House-mate, Rep. Pete "Huckster" Hoekstra. With great, Fox-fueled fanfare, the dimbulb duo released an "intelligence report" claiming that WMD had indeed been found in Iraq — fully "justifying" Bush’s Babylonian conquest.

What they had "unearthed," of course, was the decidedly unsecret fact that over the course of three years, Iraq’s occupiers had come across a few old chemical weapon shells scattered here and there around the country. These were remnants of the once-great arsenal of deadly toxins that Saddam had amassed with the direct and ample aid of a U.S. president named George Bush, who explicitly ordered American agencies to approve the shipment of weaponizable poisons and other "dual-use technologies" for WMD to his favorite tough guy, Saddam. But Saneless and Huckster were trumpeting was not a noble casus belli but simply the fetid leavings of a former Bush Family crime.

As Hanley points out, "the Pentagon and outside experts stressed that these abandoned shells, many found in ones and twos, were 15 years old or more, their chemical contents were degraded, and they were unusable as artillery ordnance. Since the 1990s, such ‘orphan’ munitions, from among 160,000 made by Iraq and destroyed, have turned up on old battlefields and elsewhere in Iraq, ex-inspectors say. In other words, this was no surprise."

What was the truth of the situation? Hanley again: "The reality in this case is that after a 16-month, $900-million-plus investigation, the U.S. weapons hunters known as the Iraq Survey Group declared that Iraq had dismantled its chemical, biological and nuclear arms programs in 1991 under U.N. oversight. That finding in 2004 reaffirmed the work of U.N. inspectors who in 2002-03 found no trace of banned arsenals in Iraq."

The story makes clear that is not just the Congressional con-men and the knowing liars on Fox News hoodwinking the public. In this case, as in so many others in our fetid day, the fish rots from the head:

"I think the Santorum-Hoekstra thing is the latest ‘factoid,’ but the basic dynamic is the insistent repetition by the Bush administration of the original argument," said John Prados, author of the 2004 book Hoodwinked: The Documents That Reveal How Bush Sold Us a War.

Administration statements still describe Saddam’s Iraq as a threat. Despite the official findings, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has allowed only that "perhaps" WMD weren’t in Iraq. And Bush himself, since 2003, has repeatedly insisted on one plainly false point: that Saddam rebuffed the U.N. inspectors in 2002, that "he wouldn’t let them in," as he said in 2003, and "he chose to deny inspectors," as he said this March.

The facts are that Iraq — after a four-year hiatus in cooperating with inspections — acceded to the U.N. Security Council’s demand and allowed scores of experts to conduct more than 700 inspections of potential weapons sites from Nov. 27, 2002, to March 16, 2003. The inspectors said they could wrap up their work within months. Instead, the U.S. invasion aborted that work.

As recently as May 27, Bush told West Point graduates, "When the United Nations Security Council gave him one final chance to disclose and disarm, or face serious consequences, he refused to take that final opportunity."

All of them — Bush, Rice, Hoekstra, Santorum, the warmongering nabobs at Fox News — know they are peddling lies. The truth is too glaringly obvious to ignore, even for a pathologically incurious, spoon-fed twit like Bush. But they don’t care. Hanley’s story is one of the very few in the mainstream press to have ever laid out the facts alongside their lies in a calm, straightforward fashion. It’s clear, concise, quietly but utterly devastating — and it won’t make a damn bit of difference.

The Bushists know that a wire story buried on page 16 of the Topeka Times — or even splashed on the front of the Washington Post — poses no threat to their propaganda machine. They know that the majority of Americans get their "news" from TV — or rather, from glimpses at the scrolling headlines rolling by under the bland, blathering, blow-dried heads of the anchors and the fulminating mugs of the countless hard-right apparatchiks who dominate the screen. The lies will go on — and the corpses will keep piling up, despite the occasional flash of lightning piercing through the dark.

Chris Floyd [send him mail] is the author of Empire Burlesque: The Secret History of the Bush Regime.

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